Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Thu, April 25

Talk of the Town: ‘Change’ homeless proposal serves only downtown

A local man solicits help from passing drivers during a snowy day in 2018. The City of Prescott will soon begin installing signs at busy Prescott corners, urging passers-by not to give to panhandlers. As an alternative, the signs will suggest donating to a city-led effort to collect money toward helping the homeless. (Richard Haddad/WNI)

A local man solicits help from passing drivers during a snowy day in 2018. The City of Prescott will soon begin installing signs at busy Prescott corners, urging passers-by not to give to panhandlers. As an alternative, the signs will suggest donating to a city-led effort to collect money toward helping the homeless. (Richard Haddad/WNI)

In response to the “Change for the Better” proposal to create donation receptacles for the homeless; why doesn’t the City of Prescott use all the money they are proposing to spend on stopping panhandling for housing for those who are homeless?

If someone living in their car needs money for repairs so they can get to work they cannot wait a year for a committee to decide if they are worthy. Yes, there are those who take advantage but that small portion of the homeless population is reflected in all segments of society. We can’t treat them all based on the actions of a few. It seems that the only thing the city wants is for panhandling to stop in the downtown area. What about the rest of the community? If someone needs money in an emergency situation they will simply go somewhere else to panhandle. This seems to be a solution to serve only the downtown area.

My exposure to the homeless situation began over 30 years ago in Phoenix. At the time I could have made the exact same comments many folks are now making about the homeless being lazy and drunks. Once I started working with them, many of whom were veterans, on a personal level about seven years ago, I was struck at the amount of suffering many of them have endured. Of the ones I dealt with, many ended up homeless because of a medical issue, either their own or a family member that required liquidating all their assets to pay for care.

Those that I know who have had to panhandle have done so because they needed to pay for medications or repairs to the vehicle. The homeless have numerous locations to eat so there should be no reason for someone to panhandle for food. I can think of only a small handful who would not want to work if offered a job. It’s difficult to apply for a job when you don’t have clean clothes, carry all your possessions in a backpack, need significant dental work and don’t have phone to receive a call back. Most applications require an address – how does a homeless person deal with that?

Instead of sending the problem to another location, why not deal with it head on? Most of the homeless need medical care or mental health treatment. These are people who need our compassion and the courage to do the right thing. The right thing in my opinion is to treat the real problem not cover it up and pretend it doesn’t exist by sending it tow another location — out of sight — out of mind.

It’s been said that we’ve solved the drug treatment issue here in Prescott. What do you think happens to all those folks who are released from the treatment facilities with no place to go? They become homeless and wander our streets.

This area needs affordable housing and jobs that pay a living wage.

Jean Lutz has lived in Prescott for 17 years and has volunteered for and served on boards of directors for many arts organizations as well as many community providers that dealt with the homeless, as well as veterans, prisoner reform and the mentally ill. She spent several years attempting to create a program for the homeless that would have taught them techniques to upcycle recyclables into items that could be sold, which would have provided them with training as well social skills.

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