While thousands of people perused paintings and pottery at Art on the Square on Saturday, a dozen people gathered 10 minutes away to ponder the plight of the homeless. While the art-goers worried about where to take shelter if it rained, the other group wondered how to shelter people when they have no permanent address.
Given a choice between these two events, most people would choose to attend the art fair. But even without anything else to do, few people want to discuss the sad and complex problem of homelessness.
Thank goodness some people keep bringing it up and forcing the rest of us to pay attention. Homelessness is a major concern not only in Belleville but throughout the region. It’s especially urgent during extreme weather. In March a 56-year-old man was found dead behind a trash bin in Belleville. He died of exposure to the elements. The temperature overnight: 33 degrees.
The city of Belleville has rules and regulations to prevent temporary shelters from operating past 8 p.m. But if a church is able to accommodate people overnight when the weather is an issue, why not allow it? This applies in communities throughout the metro-east.
Instead of focusing on reasons for why something can’t work, we have to find a way to move from talking to action. We need solutions not just during extreme weather but 365 days a year.
Ignoring the homelessness problem won’t make it go away.