Homelessness is an international problem, in large cities and small communities. Homeless people are raising concerns as more seem to be coming to small towns, leaving the cities.
They are more visible in Franklin County communities than ever before. Nearness to St. Louis has something to do with it. Police and the sheriff’s department are well aware of the situation. So are agencies that deal with needy people. Washington has a homeless task force that is trying to find solutions.
There is no final solution that has taken hold and can be implemented. Many of the homeless, it’s hard to believe, like a lifestyle that leaves them free of any responsibilities and they are not interested in finding work. Some have mental and physical problems. Others are alcoholics or drug dependent. Some have criminal records, usually for minor violations. According to law enforcement officials, most do not pose a serious threat to people or property. There are homeless people who do verbally assault people.
Public places attract them. They are constantly on the move, seeking shelters for relief from the cold and heat. They accept food handouts and there are a few places where they can shower and clean up.
The Washington City Council is aware of the concerns about homeless people. The council is limited as to what it can do. More strict rules for public places, such as definite hours when the public can use the facilities, can be enacted, and arrests can be made for trespassing.
If the homeless do not violate laws, the police are limited in what they can do. Homeless people can be a public nuisance, especially for law enforcement officers.
There’s no easy solution in sight.