Caring Politics

Cracking down on homeless points out need for comprehensive policies

February 10, 2015

homeless child
Over the weekend, law enforcement shutdown several homeless camps in Escambia County. Property owners wanted them off their property, according to deputies.

Nathan Monk, a long-time advocate for the homeless, is concerned that the evictions and stricter laws regarding panhandling is being done without any thought on the part of our city and county governments to providing services to deal with this area’s homeless issues.

“The biggest problem with everything that’s going on right now, from camping to panhandling to use of public restrooms, is that we don’t have answers to homelessness,” said Monk. “We don’t have any policies directing how we’re supposed to address these issues as a community. I think the average citizen has made it very clear that they don’t want their taxpayer dollars being spent on arresting people who are poor. We want solutions. We want something practical coming out of this.”

In other words, this community can get stricter on panhandling, it can look at the homeless camps, but until the city and county have programs in place to help these people, it’s not going to save us money, it’s going to cost us money.

Monk agreed. He said, “It costs us three times as much when we arrest a homeless person as it would to put them in housing. In other communities, if you look at Utah, Utah is set to end homelessness by 2016. They have reduced their homeless population by over 80 percent because they’re putting people in homes. They’re finding solutions.”

He wants to see a comprehensive policy developed by our officials. “By having a home, it’s empowering people with very little push to go find employment, to get their lives back on track,” said Monk. “That’s the issue is we don’t have a comprehensive policy that’s looking at how are we going to compassionately and in a fiscally responsible way deal with the problem of poverty and homelessness within our community. I think that’s what we really want answers on.”

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