Kenosha fails in caring for its homeless


JOSEPH CANNING | canni001@rangers.uwp.edu

Desperation, uncertainty, fearthese are the daily realities of America’s homeless who are all too often turned away, neglected or reviled by their communities. Sadly, the

Joey
Joseph Canning

homeless population of Kenosha has been forced to accept that they may have nowhere to go come May 1 when one of the only two homeless shelters, First Step and The Shalom Center, in town, located at 1017 63rd street, will be forced to close its doors.

A popular, but unfair decision

First Step’s eviction follows a series of complaints from nearby businesses and residents that claim First Step has been disruptive and unwelcome in its current location. The Kenosha municipal government responded by calling a hearing on whether or not the homeless shelter would maintain its license on Monday, April 17, resulting in the unanimous decision to revoke its license after nearly 14 years of operation.

While First Step’s location may not have been ideal, it is inexcusable to shut them down with no plan to accommodate the needy of Kenosha. Kenosha News reported that complaints mentioned loitering around First Step and drug paraphernalia scattered on the ground.

Nowhere to go

Those who filed these complaints seem to think that these loiterers and drug users will simply vanish once First Step does. Of course, they will not and will be left to go elsewhere, where no one is likely to provide them any service or guidance. Instead of loitering on 63rd street, they will do so on Sheridan road; instead of tossing their needles in front of First Step, they will toss them wherever they wander.

The Shalom Center remains in Kenosha, but they have only a limited capacity and do not accept all people as First Step did. Closing First Step as suddenly as the Kenosha government has shows a plain disrespect for human life.

Kenosha’s decision is immoral

Caring for the homeless population is something that every community is responsible for. In an immensely prosperous country such as the United States, where more people eat themselves to death than starve, one must pity the few that still suffer. Despite what some may say, these people are not ungracious freeloaders: they cannot just get a job. Many suffer from illnesses and circumstances in their lives that preclude them from living a normal life.

It should then come from a fundamental concern for the well-being and value of all human life—regardless of their wealth—that all responsible citizens of Kenosha urge their government to allow First Step to operate until a more suitable location and/or organization can be found for these indispensable services.

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