Letter to the editor: Middlebury must treat homeless with respect
I have known Laura Asermily for many years. While her choice of words in the article published on Oct. 17, 2019, may have been unfortunate, I am certain that they were about the behavior, not the value of the people she was discussing. It’s fair to say that pooping on the Green is bad behavior. If it were my kid doing that, I would fully expect the community to be more than a little grossed out. Regardless of the reason, he was doing it.
Having said that, I disagree with any action that “discourages” the homeless from coming to or congregating in our community. It reminds me of “abstinence-only” education. It isn’t an effective prevention strategy. It’s based on the way that we would like things to be, rather than on the way that they are. We cannot wait for more mental health services, we cannot wait for more housing to be built. We cannot wait for more and better access to addiction medicine. The problem is here now, and we have to face it and do something. Even if it turns out to be the wrong thing. We are adults. Most of us have lived long enough to know that sometimes the vision we hold for a certain outcome does not always translate well in reality. So what? So what if we put up a port-a-potty on the Town Green and people use it? I sincerely doubt that the homeless will come in droves because we provide this service. Putting up fences only pushes the problem elsewhere. Quite frankly, I am a little befuddled by how a church could even consider a fence to begin with. That’s hardly Christian. But, I digress.
As I understand it, we have a budget surplus. Many people are in favor of returning the money to the taxpayers or using it to lower future payments. I am happy to donate my portion to the town for a Port-a-potty rental. It is money well spent if it helps. If it doesn’t, we can all check it off of our list of strategies in the future.
In the meantime, let’s all remember that we are talking about PEOPLE and that our children are paying attention to how we handle situations that make us uncomfortable. Humans can behave badly. They often do. Most of the time they have a roof over their heads, money in the bank and a respectable station in society. As my Grammie used to say, “But for the grace of God go you my friend(s).”