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‘Playing whack-a-mole’ with unhoused

Homelessness is not a crime. What is a crime is trespassing on private property to camp/sleep/drink/etc., breaking into construction sites or vacant property, urinating/defecating in door alcoves, stealing anything in sight, etc. Having been a downtown resident for 20 years, I saw a very significant decrease in these issues with the establishment of Purple Cliffs.

Now that Purple Cliffs has been shut down, I've already had unhoused persons camping on a vacant property, sleeping on a deck in a vacant rental house, and having a Jack and Coke party right against my neighbor's door in our new downtown condo building. I definitely share the concern of “if we build it, they will come,” but if we don't provide a legal place for the unhoused, we're just going to keep playing whack-a-mole, chasing individuals from one private property to another.

There is an ideal location that the city already owns –the 15-acre parcel between the Tech Center and Greenmount Cemetery. This site has been discussed and dismissed before, but if an access road were to be built from Avenida del Sol, where all the services are, along the north side of Greenmount to this site, the neighbors’ concerns could be addressed by significant fencing along both sides of the access to protect Greenmount and Ella Vita.

Secondary/emergency access could be provided through the Tech Center. This would provide a safe, secure and less prominent/visible location for the unhoused, with the services that they need immediately adjacent.

Tracy Reynolds