I am a parent of children at St. Michael Parish School who is opposed to the location of a low-barrier homeless shelter within 500 feet of the school. Do I think a low-barrier shelter is a good idea? You bet.
But the population in need of low-barrier shelter consists largely of the most severely mentally ill, those with the most serious criminal convictions (yes, including sex offenses), and those who are actively using drugs. Does anyone seriously wonder why, as a parent of two young girls, I would oppose bringing this population to temporary housing near my children’s school?
I do not accept that my objection to this location is baseless. I am not saying our children would become victims of sex offenders. I’m saying this project purposely brings a population of mentally ill and drug-addicted individuals to an area where elementary school children play on the other side of a 4-foot chain-link fence. Can someone tell me there is no risk inherent to this situation?
Finally, I find it quite telling that the concerns of parents and families are considered baseless but the concerns of downtown businesses (where the shelter location was originally proposed) are considered legitimate. They didn’t want hypodermic needles outside on the streets, they didn’t want their customers scared away, they didn’t want to lose income.
I guess in my mind, I have a lot more at stake.