A Colorado Springs police officer on the Homeless Outreach Team checks on a homeless person at a camp along Fountain Creek.

All homeless are not ‘our neighbors’

The front-page article on how the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless’ two-year residential rehabilitation effort is impacting the surrounding Las Animas community illustrates how large “help the homeless” projects often end up causing very negative consequences.

Locally, our Mill Street neighborhood and the Ivywild neighborhood can easily show how the ever-expanding Rescue Mission have been causing problems for them. Both at Fort Lyons and at our local Mission, the problem does not lie with the majority of the targeted population helped by these very worthy efforts. The negative impact is related to those who dropped out of the program, or, in the case of our Mission, are vagrants who are enjoying having their lifestyle enabled by the “no-questions asked” handouts provided there. The entire homeless population are not “our good neighbors”. Our local “homeless industry” and the community has never held a conversation about the difference between “homeless” and “vagrant” or the difference between “helping” versus “enabling”. Perhaps our Police “Homeless Outreach Team”, who are aware of such differences, could sponsor such a community conversation.

I have been involved with a number of homeless-serving agencies since the issue arose in the 1980s. My observation and experience shows me that unless the agency involved makes a genuine and complete effort to address the impact on the surrounding neighborhood, the unintended consequences of the operation are severely negative in nature. The “NIMBY” issue is very much based in reality, as impacted neighborhoods often are fighting to preserve their peace and civility. I have seen a number of Rescue Missions around our country address the problem of “toxic charity” and revise how they hand out their support. They recognize that their “no-questions-asked” handouts can and do inflict harm to the surrounding area as well as the very recipients of the largess. Again — unintended consequences.

The Fort Lyons project, our Rescue Mission and other homeless-serving agencies need to really listen to those who are impacted by their good intentions.

Matthew Parkhouse

Colorado Springs

Importance of preservation

I enjoyed the piece “Let’s hear it for historic preservation” that you ran on Nov. 24. I applaud the city’s effort to reassess the historic preservation plan.

It’s heartbreaking to see entire blocks of older structures being torn down just because the restoration and preservation is not cost effective to the respective developers, and the proposed plan will help remedy some of that.

Several local neighborhoods have strong associations to push back against thoughtless renewal projects. Some neighborhoods, however, don’t have strong associations or those who live there aren’t aware of the historic significance of where they live. I believe that our community needs to be more aware of our past and to honor that past consciously. Too many historic structures and neighborhoods have fallen in the name of economic development.

At any rate, thanks for running the piece. I look forward to bringing more awareness to our city’s history so that we can be mindful to the impacts that development and growth may bring.

Gina Schaarschmidt

Colorado Springs

Another election reform gimmick

In the Friday, Nov. 29 Gazette, Barry Fagin of the Independence Institute propounds on Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). It’s also called “instant runoff” and “single transferable vote” or STV. Another technical name is “ballot exhaustion.”

This is another progressive election reform gimmick. I hope I never see it on any ballot of mine. In RCV, voters don’t vote for the candidate they most want elected. It rigs the system to allow candidates with marginal support to win elections. This ballot exhaustion leads to the election of candidates who re not the first choice of a majority of voters.

The 2010 mayor’s race in Oakland, Calif., took 10 rounds of vote tabulation to get a winner. The ultimate winner received less than a quarter of the first-round votes, yet managed to pile up a 1.9% margin of victory in the final round.

Ranked-choice voting is a confusing, overly complicated gimmick and would make the electoral system worse.

Independents and third-party voters need to join a major party and become better informed — a real part of the solution that they wish to see. It takes work, money and involved citizens to help mount any political campaign.

Waiting until the last minute and checking a box on a ballot that was mailed, I fear, is insufficient to being an “informed” citizen voter. I would that they help to protect voting rights in a manner that our courageous and learned Founders could approve.

Otherwise, we may become further fractured into an ungovernable profusion of subsidiary entities.

Janice Taylor

Colorado Springs

Stereopticon cards were once popular

I always enjoy ‘A Look Back’ as it sometimes evokes memories from my 80-plus years and other times provides insight to days gone by. The Nov. 30 entry was of the former type but should have been identified as a “Stereopticon card”.

Younger readers may not know these 3-D viewing devices of the day were very popular and, in one form or another, in use as recently as 50 years ago.

Thanks for a fine publication.

Charles Stickney

Colorado Springs

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