For several years now there have been comments of concern about homeless people in Washington. People wonder where they come from, and if they are dangerous.
The riverfront is one of the favorite locations where homeless people migrate to from wherever they were living before coming to Washington.
The police have been well aware of homeless people in the city. Most move on after being here for a spell. We aren’t aware of any serious crimes they have committed. We know they have made some people uncomfortable when they observed them. The homeless have lived in tents at various locations, including the riverfront. They have been observed in the area of the Farmers’ Market and the train depot. We heard a report that a few of them did hang around places that are open 24 hours a day.
We don’t have many homeless people and there is speculation of how they get here, and where they go when they leave here. We heard a report last week that a white van was observed dropping off homeless people here. Another report was that a small bus has been seen dropping off homeless people.
If the homeless people want a job and would take any kind of employment, there are companies that may hire them at lower level jobs. However, their personal appearance can work against them in finding employment. It also is known that some homeless prefer that way of life — no responsibilities and they know charitable groups will help them out.
There can be problems with projects aimed at helping homeless people. An example is the Riverfront Little Free Food Pantry that recently was removed since people who used it for food left wrappings and other litter at Rennick Riverfront Park. An unsafe environment also resulted in the minds of citizens who complained to the park board about it. The parks director said people were getting the food and trashing the park area. The Franklin County Community Resource board’s executive director said removing the little food pantry was “unfortunate” because it did serve the homeless and others, such as senior citizens on Social Security at the end of the month who were out of money while waiting for their next check.
There also has been some vandalism reported in the area where the little food pantry was located. It may not have been done by homeless people.
Many years ago in Washington, the practice by police when problems arose from “strangers,” who were usually intoxicated and causing a disturbance, after sobering up in jail, was to take them to the city limits, where they were told to leave and never come back. That would be “inhumane” treatment today.