My Turn: Let’s get to work on ending city homelessness
It has been a long and cold winter, which has been particularly difficult on those who are experiencing homelessness. Cold weather means there is more need to find a place to be inside and less time to be outside.
After volunteering at South Church’s emergency cold winter shelter, I could see this wearing on the people who depend upon it for a warm place to sleep. Imagine living with 20 roommates. Even in the best cases with just one roommate there are always difficulties.
The cold weather also meant that the Friendly Kitchen had to step up to provide a place for people to stay during those cold or snowy days. This meant extended hours and people spending more time together confined to small places. It meant people had a harder time behaving themselves.
Spring is coming, and I was glad to see Concord’s steering committee to end homelessness finish its report. There is much to do. I am glad this is an ambitious plan. However, we must now act. We must begin to work on solutions, even if those solutions are not 100 percent perfect. We must begin to give an alternative to living crammed together in a basement.
I am looking forward to this work. I hope all of us who live in Concord see this as our work – not just because we are do-gooders or because we see it as part of our spiritual life. We work to end homelessness because it is in all of our self-interest to do so. It helps to have people who are productive members of our society, to give people housing so our city is not littered with tents, to give people a place to go to the bathroom, take a shower and do their laundry because it helps downtown business not to have people using the street as a toilet.
It is in our economic self-interest not to rely on our police, fire department, and Concord Hospital to use their resources on homelessness. It is in our self-interest to have everyone living in Concord be safe and have opportunities to live free and pursue happiness.
It has been a cold winter, but spring is coming. Time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.
(The Rev. Jonathan Hopkins is pastor of the Concordia Lutheran Church in Concord.)