Recent letters to the editor from Gazette readers.
Include the homeless in the solution
On Wednesday, Dec. 27, the Gazette's Viewpoint in the "Opinion" section of the paper was entitled "Let's all do our part on homelessness". I agree that all of us should become involved, concerned, and engaged in addressing this societal matter. I want to submit, however, that "all of us" should include the homeless folks as well. I would encourage city and community officials to place some expectations on the homeless in exchange for services rendered to them.
There's no reason why one couldn't expect a bag of trash from a homeless person in exchange for a meal. Sections of our town are littered extensively, in no small part due to the carelessness of some homeless people. There is a litter ordinance on the books in the city. We should enforce it!
Victims need some consideration
It seems to me there's a disturbing pattern in our town to blame the vulnerable for all our problems. The homeless are blamed for being that way, not the historically low wage scale or the ever-increasing cost of rents.
Developers seem flush with cash for new, up-scale projects. They are busily tearing down another low-rent neighborhood to get ready for yet another glamorous hotel. Why don't our stellar builders create a new campus for homeless - one that is actually adequate in services.
Another problem we blame on the victims - the deer population. If you regularly visit our open spaces, you may have noticed a drastic reduction in the wildlife habitat. Development all around the perimeters of these spaces, destructive trail building that crisscrosses through acres of habitat, and the worst of all, the clearing of hundreds of acres of all plants with the giant, masticating machine. Is it any wonder there are animals looking for new spaces in which to find shelter.
Whether it is shelter for people or wildlife, when will the victims get some consideration, rather than blame?
What the community could do
Kudos to The Gazette and to Jakob Rodgers for continuing your excellent coverage of the critical issue of homelessness in our community. Kudos also to the Colorado Springs Police Department for its compassion in refusing to roust the homeless from their makeshift shelters on frigid nights when they have no place else to go.
As for the churches which profess love and compassion, but apparently would allow a homeless person to freeze to death rather than offer their heated, tax-exempt buildings as shelter, I commend to them the gospel of Matthew 25:31-46, concerning the separation of sheep and goats. From Jesus Christ: "Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." And the converse: "Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not unto me." For the latter, everlasting punishment is prescribed.
So, the community grapples with this problem, hamstrung by a lack of sufficient resources, while churches shut their doors. And make no mistake, as much of an issue as it may be for the rest of us, it is worse for those plagued by poverty, mental illness, and substance abuse, huddling in tents in single-digit temperatures. Mahatma Ghandi said: "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." What to do, so that our community can realize its greatness?
Here's one suggestion: tax the churches, and use the proceeds to feed, clothe, and shelter the least fortunate among us. Let us help these institutions overcome their reluctance to walk the path Jesus and Ghandi prescribed.
Meanwhile, I thank The Gazette for shining light on this issue. Keep up the good work.
Unfortunate encounters with homeless
As a subscriber to The Gazette and a resident of Colorado Springs for over 30 years I find myself compelled to provide commentary to the recent writings within your viewpoint page dated Dec. 26 and titled "Stop judging the homeless."
I would like to detail three separate encounters that the wife and I have experienced, involving as we understood homeless persons. First encounter, the wife and myself walked to a grocery store buying some bananas and other things. On the way home we encountered a man who stated that he had not eaten in three days. He asked if we had extra change we could give him. Instinctively I reached for the bananas we had purchased and offered them to him. His response to us, "I don't want your bananas, don't you have any money?" My response to him: look somewhere else. Second encounter, from work I would take the same route home every day, seeing the same persons on the corner or on the median with their cardboard signs declaring their homeless situation and asking for money. Witnessed, trash dispersed throughout their area, and at least on one occasion the same person exiting a 7-11 store with a lengthy fan of lottery tickets visible.
Final encounter was a young girl with small dog, again the sign declaring her situation but, this time a twist when asked why she wanted the money to our astonishment she stated, "For my pot." She remained stoic and the realization finally hit that she was actually serious. She received nothing.
When one experiences the above events it leaves one with a certain perspective, and it is unfortunate.
No doctor patient confidentiality
In the article written by Ernest Luning "Denver: More data needed to access legal pot's impact" Dec. 26, the last paragraph, and I quote: "When the Veterans Administration finds veterans are using cannabis, the VA cuts benefits, including housing benefits..." confirms a fear I have had for many years. As a vet I have always suspected that there is no doctor patient confidentiality at the VA.
Be careful what you tell a VA doctor, it could cost you big time.