I would like to personally thank the city of Kent's Chamber of Commerce for writing a letter openly declaring just how paranoid about the homeless they truly are. A cartoon in the April 6th edition of the local paper, The Kent Reporter will attest to that; just scroll to page six.
Here is a block quote from the letter the Chamber of Commerce wrote to Kent's City Council:
While this issue has been controversial, we have an outpouring of support and passion from those serving the homeless. We urge you to say no to the Resource Center being used as a homeless shelter of any kind, but to continue to keep the issue of homelessness in Kent at the forefront. The Kent Chamber of Commerce looks forward to partnering with you to find solutions. However struggling to find solutions in a short period of time frame, while the business community feels threatened for their economic vitality does not create productive dialog. Please close the issue of the Resource Center as a homeless shelter so we can concentrate on the real issue at hand, assisting those in need within our community.
We understand that there are many resources in Kent to address homelessness and we offer to work with the council in identifying those resources, setting up a task force with the business community, homeless advocates and faith based groups to address this issue and identify gaps in services. The Kent Chamber of Commerce requests you make this conversation about the issue of homelessness within our community, not the building.
Here's the problem with the Kent's Chamber of Commerce "understanding" of homelessness; it's out of touch with reality. First of all, this isn't the first time there's been a request to use the Resource Center as some kind of homeless shelter or day center. Secondly, if they weren't so out of touch with reality, they should've known by now that the reason there's more homeless in their city than their dubious one night count numbers suggests is because there simply aren't enough resources to keep families from living out of cars, homeless youth under bridges or out in the woods and seniors and vets with cancer with nowhere to go.
The funny but not so funny thing about the Chamber of Commerce's letter is that they seem to think homeless people are a bigger threat to their community than the current economic situation the entire country is in. Equally interesting about the city's so-called focus group is that not one of them was a homeless person or an advocate out on the streets or else I would've seen them by now. The focus group was slanted from the beginning. So while these out-of-touch people waste time with endless bureaucracy against the homeless that's been going on for years, homeless people will continue to grow in number and die on the streets because there's all these "resources" available to them.
Get a clue, Kent! Shelters have indefinite waiting lists, funds for homeless programs have been slashed, families are living out of cars because they can't get living wage jobs yet you seem to think a "task force" is going to identify gaps everybody but you knows for the last ten years. Not only that, if faith-based orgs had the finances to "fill in the gaps" don't you think they would've done so by now? The city will continue to use their police force to harass homeless from public parks and the library and do sweeps right before Kent's Cornucopia days and I will be there with my camera to catch it all, so while you all have homes to go to tonight, the rest of us will continue to work with groups who tired of your prejudice years ago.
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