Such an idea is foolish and riddled with problems.  Many of the people in a homeless situation are suffering from drug and alcohol related issues;  as many true rehabilitation centers have requirements for sobriety and clean drug test results,  proponents of low barrier shelters complain that having such rules is tantamount to being a “barrier” to improving one’s life. 

Their solution is to provide a roof over their heads where there are no rules against shelter residents continuing to engage in their self-destructive behaviors- the very behaviors which got residents in trouble in the first place.  There is no personal accountability, no requirements for attendance in counseling sessions,  no acknowledgement of calling addictions what they are,  no requirements for assisting with job tasks, no curfews, no structure,  no pathway towards the resident actually getting out of the predicament he or she is in…remember, these are “barriers.”

I say nonsense!  History has shown all across our country that when governments support such low barrier shelters,  they have not only failed to address the issues that must be confronted by the individual resident,  they have only attracted more of the same type of individuals to the community – individuals who roam the streets day and night becoming public nuisances, engaging in crimes, and making the community worse.

If a person is an addict and decides that they need help,  by all means I am supportive of a person’s decision to seek help through proper rehabilitation.  But there are steps to take, rules and responsibilities that must be adhered to. 

Town officials in Haywood County’s largest city Waynesville over the past couple years have been confronted by citizens fed up with the problems being caused by the homeless vagrant population.  The Board of Aldermen’s strategy to address the issue was to create a “Homeless Task Force” comprised of appointees from board members who would look into these issues and make policy recommendations. 

Unfortunately the appointed Task Force was dominated in numbers by left leaning activists, social workers, and clergy who had a vested interest in seeing this as an opportunity to create more bureaucracy by the hiring of more like-minded people, of course at tax payer expense.   The group also included the county sheriff, Waynesville’s police chief and a Lieutenant,  and the current Chairman of the County Commission. 

One of the complaints was that there was a considerable lack of inclusion for voices of those directly impacted by the issue – namely private residents and business owners that lived and worked in these areas being overrun by vagrants.  Despite well founded complaints,  these were ignored by the Task Force facilitator and the town’s Board of Aldermen refused to make any changes or accommodations.

I believe that without concerned citizens’ pushback on the issue,  The Task Force facilitator and her left-minded cohorts would have had their entire wish list approved by the town aldermen,  and the elected officials and Task Force members could pat themselves on the back for “doing something.”  As it turned out,  while the issue is certainly not dead,  the pushback has been real enough to cause the Waynesville Board of Aldermen take notice.  This is a classic example of concerned citizens rolling up their sleeves to take back their community.

I am running to serve such citizens.