Roanoke, VA

Opinion: Do Roanoke leaders want the homeless to die and decrease the surplus population?

Cheryl E Preston
There is a lack of kindness for the homelessPhoto byMatt CollameronUnsplash

Are Roanoke City leaders indifferent to the less fortunate?

I was stunned to read an article from WDBJ7 stating that during a recent forum at a local church that was promoted by clergy, an insensitive statement was made.

One of the biggest tips given to the community is to not give homeless people money or food, because it builds a false sense of security. Instead, share with them the resources available".

This is no different than saying "Don't feed the pigeons-don't feed the ducks-don't feed the bears" and brings to mind the statement made by Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol where he said the poor had better die and decrease the surplus population. I know someone who struggled with homelessness for years and appreciated the kindness of those who gave food, money, and clothing until he was on his feet again.
Feed the hungryPhoto byYoutube Begin in the word

Do they want the surplus population to decrease?

This individual was encouraged by the kindness and eventually, thanks to the Homeless Assistance Team he is in his own apartment again. Having said that this person confirmed that yes there are those who abuse the system, are looking for a free ride, or do not have the motivation to get clean and sober. He said there were people who were habitually homeless because they were mentally ill or did not desire the responsibility of paying bills and facing eviction. And yes there are those who panhandle to feed their additions.

Homelessness, however, is complex and not one size fits all and each situation must be handled on its own merit. This is why Roanoke Valley residents should be given the benefit of the doubt that they have the common sense and discernment to decide for themselves whether they should give food and or money to the homeless or not. For city leaders to make the blanket statement that not feeding any and all of those without homes is the "best thing" we can do for those less fortunate shows a gross lack of compassion and understanding. It sends the message that people without shelter are like stray animals who will go away if you don't feed them.
Thehomeless need foodPhoto bySteve KnutsononUnsplash

Those with full bellies are making the judgments

Something else to consider is that any committee on the homeless should include those who have been there and done that because they will have a more balanced perspective on what is needed. Roanoke City leaders say don't feed the homeless, while they approve new apartments that are unaffordable and tear down motels where some of the homeless would stay when they have the funds, and have relocated Sheetz because some homeless individuals were in the area. Park benches were removed from Downtown and City Council has banned sleeping anywhere in the area so where are they to go?

Eventually, these changes along with other factors that affect people without a place to live will indeed decrease the surplus population. Elected officials surely realize that for every homeless person who might be taking advantage of kindness, there is someone else who simply is not making enough to pay rent, is escaping a dangerous relationship, or was unemployed through no fault of their own but just making sure you don't feed any homeless person or give them a few dollars and everything will be alright. No matter what you think of them the less fortunate are not a blight on this city they too are God's children.

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I write, about breaking news, and current events. I wrote a newspaper column from 1997 to 2007 and have written for various online platforms since 2012 including Yahoo Contributor Network, Hubpages, and Vocal Media.

Roanoke, VA

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