Archive for Monday, October 8, 2001

Tent option?

October 8, 2001


To the editor:

I found irony in the juxtaposition of "KU Greeks lend a helping hand in Habitat For Humanity house" and "Autopsy cites alcohol poisoning for Sept. 7 death" in the Oct. 3 edition of the Journal-World.

Our society erects affordable homes for individuals who "qualify" for Habitat for Humanity criteria, which includes meeting a certain income level, showing a need for affordable housing and being willing to spend 275 hours of "sweat equity" working on their house and others'.

Meanwhile, Dr. Eric Mitchell is quoted as saying, "I understand she (Rachelle) was a street person and those people usually aren't in good health."

I propose to the people who want to spend $200,000 creating a "Lawrence Open Shelter" that this money would be better spent buying property with a well and portable toilets where I may legally erect a teepee, tent, yurt or other suitable shelter. I submit the fact that the Salvation Army has successfully operated a shelter for 16 years that serves most of the individuals who desire such accommodations. The rest of us camp to maintain our dignity, privacy, freedom and tranquility.

A tent village would allow us to live in the same free manner afforded to individuals who live inside Habitat for Humanity homes. While a tent village is not a solution to homelessness, it does give the homeless things they cannot get at a shelter: a sense of community and family and a sense of contributing to one another's lives by volunteering for and participating in the committees which oversee the functioning of the community.

It also gives the homeless flexibility. Families do not have to broken apart as my family was by our eviction from the North Lawrence riverfront. People can work swing- and night-shift jobs. Most shelters end up with strict rules that do not enable the homeless to do this. There are no easy solutions to poverty. Usually it is the poor themselves who must solve their own plights. Let the "open shelter" be truly open and allow us the options we need to survive and become something besides a street person.

H. J. Crooks,


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