Sunday, July 20, 2003

Homeless need a dose of empathy from their critics

Letters to the Editor

As a hard working, middle-class citizen on the edge of homelessness, I empathize with Richard Witherspoon and all of the other homeless U.S. citizens that call encampments under highway overpasses home. Has anyone had the opportunity to really get to know Witherspoon or any of the other citizens to find out what events led him or her to their current state? I would like to direct this letter to individuals with opinions/mindsets like the letter writer ("Advocates should open homes to homeless," July 17) and Mayor Charlie Luken.

The writer seems to have so much compassion for fellow citizens who are homeless; he sarcastically suggests that those people who have bleeding hearts for the homeless to open their homes to the homeless.

Mayor Luken, I have always admired you. Now you have taken my admiration to a new level. Many thanks to you for your concern for the safety of motorists who pass by these encampments and might be distracted and be involved in a traffic fatality. I never paid attention to the existence of these encampments until you mentioned them. I know what it is like to be on the edge of homelessness; it is a very frightening and life-draining experience. I would welcome the opportunity to allow Mr. Witherspoon to pitch his tent in my yard anytime.

The saddest part of all is knowing the city of Cincinnati can spend billions of dollars on building (non-necessary) new football and baseball stadiums and spend money to help renovate high-end retailers (Saks) and Convergys to keep them downtown.

What is the city doing to help citizens like Mr. Witherspoon who are trying to help themselves by not bleeding public assistance agencies?

To everyone who has a home, be thankful and pray you will never be placed in circumstances that lead you to the edge of homelessness. What will you do?

Christine Bailey, Erlanger

Spend garage money on homeless instead

The mayor and City Council say they are embarrassed to see people who are homeless huddled under the freeways. Isn't that too bad. What they should be embarrassed about is building Kroger Co. a $15 million parking garage instead of providing needed services to people who are homeless.

Instead of building America's largest grocery chain a $15 million garage, the city could have used that money to build a new city-run shelter or build group homes for people who are severely mentally ill who have been just dumped on the mean streets of Cincinnati. They could use some of the money to build drug-treatment centers to help people rebuild their lives and become productive citizens again.

To top it off, they are telling organizations such as ourselves that we have to find these people under the bridges a place to stay. Give us the $15 million instead of Kroger and we will. We will build each homeless person living under the bridges a brand-new house in Indian Hill.

It is the legal responsibility and duty of Mayor Charlie Luken and City Council to deal with the homelessness problem of this city.

Ed Ritchy, Homeless Hotline of Greater Cincinnati

Ship homeless to compassionate Calif.

The homeless situation in Cincinnati once again made the news ("There's no place they can call home," July 16). No solution seems to be in sight. In the meantime, all sorts of public resources are being expended to no avail.

Try this for a solution: Buy each homeless person a one-way plane ticket to California. Californians, particularly those around Santa Monica and San Diego, just love to provide for the disadvantaged. The climate is great and the handouts are great. What homeless person could refuse such a deal?

But be sure they do not come back to Cincinnati as a homeless person. Such a deal would seem to benefit everyone involved. The homeless will get a great, hassle-free place to be homeless, while the city of Cincinnati rids itself of one persistent, unsolvable problem. And all of the resources being wasted on this problem can then be put to better use.

Frank Miller, Mason

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Homeless need a dose of empathy from their critics
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