Homelessness not just a City Hall issue

December 11, 2012 

What to do about homeless people camping around the new Olympia City Hall building?

It’s an interesting problem for a city that has made every effort to deal humanely with its transient homeless problem, treating people with respect and genuine concern for their integrity.

But it’s a valid question to ask whether this approach has lessened the city’s transient homeless problem, or increased it.

Downtown business and property owners might say to the city, “welcome to our world.” Transients sleeping on the sidewalks and alleyways have been the bane of many downtown businesses for years. It’s a reason some people cite for doing their shopping elsewhere.

The city’s prime responsibility is to its employees and the public that need access to City Hall. It must show respect for those people.

Employees shouldn’t have to clean up the mess created by transients, including human waste, or fear assault by them or their pets.

Councilmen Nathaniel Jones and Steve Langer are right that the city needs a solution for the entire downtown, not just City Hall. Business and property owners will be eager to hear the plan.

There’s a difference between people left homeless by the recession, or domestic violence or some other event, and those permanent transients who come here for the winter, because the weather is better.

The city has done well by the former, and, some might say, too well for the later.

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