Like many other communities, homelessness has been a part of Roswell for a long time. It is not a new problem and it is not going away. Favorable year-round weather conditions assure an environment conducive to homelessness. Our best hope is to manage it and eliminate any negative aspects associated with the matter. Through better management, we can preserve a higher quality of life for our neighborhoods.
Roswell is a very diverse community with individuals from all walks of life. Its people is the city’s strength. It is the diversity of our people that has and will continue to pull us through the tough spots. So, it is important to remember there is room in our community for all. We should never shy from the debate even though it will be rare for everyone to agree on these challenging types of issues.
The connotation and title of “homeless” breeds fear and uncertainty for many. There are stories of increased crime, and vandalism that get shared to show how bad the homeless are. This badge of shame should not be placed on all homeless.
Many just hit a bad spot and need someone to pick them up, brush them off and get them back into the saddle of life. Some are veterans, families, young or old. They are someone’s family, neighbor or friend. This is an ongoing neverending challenge but it is one that was managed better in the past when more resources were available to assist.
While this matter can be divisive, there really are no sides. It remains a problem that must be solved by the community. The intent of the city is to pull the available federal, state and community resources back together and to remain an active partner in confronting this matter.
The city should not and cannot do this by themselves. While there is no line item in the budget to cover the expense, the city does have resources, including land, which can be devoted to a cause that improves the community.
The mayor and City Council are always appreciative of partnering with those who wish to make our community better. It is understood that better management of this matter benefits the whole city.
Many of the federal and state programs designed to help the homeless get back on their feet have been reduced over the years. Even though they have been reduced through budget cuts, the federal and state agencies remain in place to provide services necessary to help. We just need to re-identify the available resources and focus on a well-developed plan.
In addition, we know that there are various private and civic groups aside from the Homeless Coalition that are also contributing to this effort in a unilateral manner. We will also be trying to see if these other organizations can be integrated into a cohesive plan. As Dr. Allen Fromme, an American psychologist, writer and educator stated, “People have been known to achieve more as a result of working with others than against them.” This is my mantra.
Roswell is home to over 65 churches and many, many caring people. Most churches and associations are successful because of those who commit to a mission. These “workhorses” carry the load while others come and go.
Many worthwhile missions tend to falter when the workhorses wear out; those who have heard the call and are trying to pick up the banner. They need our support and guidance as they are tasked to be our “workhorses” for this matter.
It remains the city’s role to assist those individuals willing to take on this challenging matter. I know together as a community we will find a solution that helps Roswell remain a great place to call home. Any assistance, suggestions and even constructive criticism is always welcome.
Joe Neeb is Roswell’s city manager. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The views expressed in this column are those of the author.