Houston Chronicle - - WORLD | FROM THE COVER -

Show em­pa­thy

Re­gard­ing “Tent city woes” and “Stop shame­ful evic­tion of needy ten­ants” (Page A31, Sun­day), Mayor Sylvester Turner is cer­tainly ex­hibit­ing shame­ful treat­ment of the home­less and ap­pears to be al­low­ing ques­tion­able ac­tion against pub­lic hous­ing ten­ants.

Show­ing lit­tle em­pa­thy for those home­less re­main­ing with­out shel­ter, the mayor, in us­ing a newly passed anti-tent or­di­nance, is fight­ing to re­move a tent city from un­der a U.S. 59 bridge. It is un­der­stand­able that he is most likely un­der pres­sure from the area’s res­i­dents. But ad­di­tional home­less shel­ter is needed first. A re­cent sur­vey by the Coali­tion for the Home­less re­ported roughly one-third of the home­less in Har­ris County re­main with­out shel­ter.

Now, the Hous­ton Hous­ing Au­thor­ity is at­tempt­ing to clear out the se­nior and vet­eran ten­ants from its project at 2100 Me­mo­rial. Un­til the au­thor­ity pro­vides a spec­i­fied, jus­ti­fi­able ex­pla­na­tion, one is left to be­lieve some good old­fash­ioned greed may be in­volved with this highly valu­able prop­erty.

Thank good­ness for the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union, which has ob­tained a re­strain­ing order against the city’s en­force­ment of the tent or­di­nance. Hope­fully, some­one will soon file suit against HHA to stop its evic­tion ef­fort.

Hous­to­ni­ans must al­ways be ready to as­sist, not at­tack, those less for­tu­nate. Re­mem­ber, un­der dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stances any­one of us could be­come home­less.

Don Sum­n­ers, Hous­ton

Let’s be fair

Re­gard­ing “Tent city woes” (Page A31, Sun­day), it is im­por­tant to un­der­stand the neigh­bors’ per­spec­tives. They’re just try­ing to live their lives: go to work, do the gro­cery shop­ping, send their kids to school, go for walks, maybe go for a short va­ca­tion oc­ca­sion­ally. They didn’t ask to have shoot­ings and stab­bings across the street. They cer­tainly never vol­un­teered to have peo­ple uri­nat­ing on their fences, lit­ter­ing in their drive­ways and ha­rass­ing their kids. At the same time, the home­less need a place to go, and it’s not to camp­sites un­der free­way over­passes.

I am firmly of the view that we need a two-step ap­proach. First, build a large pub­lic home­less shel­ter with treat­ment and so­cial ser­vices on site — like what San An­to­nio did with their “Haven for Hope.” Then al­low the home­less to pay their way by do­ing odd jobs around the city, like Al­bu­querque did.

Once these pro­grams are es­tab­lished, then pass the bans on camp­ing and other qual­ity of life laws to clean up pub­lic spa­ces — with the rule that in­stead of be­ing in­car­cer­ated for vi­o­la­tions, the home­less are sent to the pub­lic shel­ter.

We would be able to have clean neigh­bor­hoods and be fair to the home­less.

Adam Weiss, posted via Hous­tonChron­i­cle.com

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