Letter to the Editor – Time to End the Insanity

The Enterprise Mountaineer – October 20, 2021

It has been said that a definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again,  yet expecting different results.

It was recently uncovered that the town manager of Waynesville submitted an application in 2020 to the Dogwood Health Foundation for an Immediate Needs Grant to deal with the homeless situation in Waynesville. 

In the proposal,  it stated that Waynesville’s compassionate approach in dealing with the homeless (citing experiences with two homeless shelters) has created a destination for both regional and interstate homeless population that far exceeds the community’s ability to house and feed them.

 It also stated that our inability to handle large numbers of homeless residents is driving them to break into businesses and residences to squat and steal items that they can sell for cash.

This raises a question: if town leadership acknowledge that the homeless population has caused these problems,  and has been attracted to the area due to the availability of sheltering, then why in the world is the town seeking more money to hire a “CARES director” who is an advocate for low barrier housing and an increased social worker presence in the town,  who will only exponentially follow the same failed models which brought the problems to our community in the first place?

At the last town meeting on October 12,  at least fifteen citizens from the area spoke out against the report and proposals put forth by Amy Murphy-Nugen,  the person charged with facilitating the town’s troubled homeless task force.  Not a single person spoke in favor of the task force’s recommendations; meanwhile,  many of the arguments against came from differing points of view and life experiences,  but all came to the same basic conclusion: more of what is being proposed is NOT what is needed. 

It is time to stop the insanity now- the Board of Aldermen of the Town of Waynesville should not only pull the plug on the Homeless Task Force,  they should adopt an ordinance expressly forbidding no barrier/low barrier homeless shelters.

Erich Overhultz