Open Letter to Mayor Denson and the ACC city planners

Today I received this request to sign a petition:

“Mayor Denson, City Manager Reddish, and the ACC County Commission are considering an ‘Urban Camping’ law that would ban people from sleeping in parks, areas surrounding Government buildings, and other public properties. 

This law would have serious implications for the homeless, infringe upon free speech and assembly rights guaranteed in the Constitution, and could even restrict tailgating for UGA football games.

Most area homeless do not have anywhere to go. There are around 500 homeless individuals in Athens-Clarke County, with about 20% being children, but only 250 shelter beds available. What will the police and ACC do with these people?

Let’s stop this law and work together to help the homeless community, not harm them.

For more information see Homeless stats gathered by the ACC Government here: http://www.athensclarkecounty.com/DocumentCenter/Home/View/190 

I signed the petition with the following reply attached:

Dear Mayor and Commissioners,

In a town where more than 1/3 of its population is below the FEDERAL poverty line, the idea that we would push the homeless away is not only ludicrous, it is also cruel, inhumane, and dreadfully delusional. If nothing else, enlightened self-interest could dictate more reasonable actions. These people are just that: people. They have the unfortunate misfortune of living in a town where jobs either require a degree or pay a pittance; there is very little available in-between. Many are battling addictions. And yet we are a college town; how does that make sense?

No. They need our HELP, not our scorn and shaming. Please don’t do this willy-nilly! It is premature to tell homeless people they can’t live here when there are not enough other alternatives. Increasing their desperation (and therefore ensuring more trouble down the line) is never the correct answer. I know money is tight for the city too. Surely there are other ways we could direct our limited resources.

Sincerely,

Michelle

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