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Springfield Homeless Camps and the Law
The growing homeless population in Springfield Missouri is unavoidable. They are seen everywhere, especially in more populated towns and cities. As they are coming down the sidewalk others cross the street to avoid them, feared by lack of understanding. Rarely are there offers of help or comfort to their already depressing lives, or their stories asked about. Yet, in many homes filled with loved ones or friends, people wonder how to help. Certain laws have made helping more difficult along with the growing demands of needs. Despite the laws, one man has been reaching out to those who are being avoided, doing what is talked about doing.
His name is Reverend Larry Rice, “…whose work with the homeless dates back to 1975.” (Leicht, 2011) He recently has opened his parking lot for the homeless, allowing them to spend the night, to find peace knowing they are safely off the streets. Rice would like to see a piece of land in Springfield city limits for the homeless to be able to spend the night off the streets. With the approaching colder weather, many of the homeless find shelter in vacated homes since many of the shelters are filled. Alley ways and store fronts during the night become a home. There is no safety from the elements of weather or cruelness of others. As one homeless gentleman spoken to, known as Charles, he says “They are often beaten in the middle of the night.” He claimed “to have been urinated on” by a passer-by one night. (Charles, 2011) The need for their safety is clear, for some it is a matter of life or death. Rice is just trying to help avoid the later.
There are rules that are in place and have been followed without incident from his “guests” as he calls them. Each guest must register by four p.m. and are locked in at the nine p.m. curfew. He has provided a portable toilet, emergency phones and fire extinguishers just in case. A tarp is wrapped around the fence surrounding the lot, blocking the view in or out. If guests have a car, they can park it in the lot to get out of the cold. If anyone is in need of a tent, Rice provides one for them. It is not a big crowd, only approximately twenty people have stayed in the last week. By eight in the morning the tents are down and the people have vacated the parking lot until night fall. “Springfield city officials are calling reverend Larry Rice's tent city more of a statement than a solution.” (Leigh, 2011)
“As far as the city is concerned, the parking lot, as a campground, is not in compliance with city zoning regulations.” (Leicht, 2011) Chris Straw, director of the city’s building development services department is speaking of the “…tents on site, including at least eight provided by the center, meets the definition of a campground.” (Leicht, 2011) Rice’s shelter has been prohibited unless he obtains the proper permits. However, because of zoning laws in the city, his request is not likely to be granted. Location has been the biggest challenge to overcome.
The location of this lot is a half a block from a public high school. There are concerns and complaints from parents regarding the safety of the children. There have been no reports of any actual harm done to any child, or any other person for that matter, as a result of the homeless people staying on the site. City leaders are supported by parents who are trying to pass a law that prohibits homeless shelters to be within a thousand feet of any school or park. That leaves the question of what can be done to satisfy all parties involved.
Taking from the idea of a popular television show, vacant homes can be donated to the city or other charity, by homeowners wanting free of the property.
Based on a television show, volunteers come onto a site of needy families, demolish the older home and rebuild a more suitable one. Supplies can be found from donations of businesses. If the home is already in suitable condition, that is all the better. Instead of a home for one family, building a complex of apartments is used to transition families from the street into a home of their own. Just like any other rental agreement, the homeless applicant would be screened for drugs and criminal background. While in the transition home, the occupants can then perform verified community service to keep the lease. This not only is giving back to the community, but gives the occupant a sense of worth and skills.
Along the sides of Springfield city streets are electronic signs that remind drivers to buckle safety belts or that drinking and driving is deadly. Each of these signs is costing city tax payers thousands of dollars to buy, install, and run. Money collected from taxes could go to opening another shelter, instead of high dollar signs reminding drivers of things they should already know. A four million dollar movie theater was built in town to join the three other theaters inside city limits. That money instead could have gone towards transitional housing, helping those that just need temporary help in order to get their lives back. If money can be raised and used for such luxuries, then money can be raised for relieving the homeless population.
According to the “The State of Homelessness in Missouri: 2011 Report”, the largest percent increase in homeless persons was in the Springfield CoC, where the reported total homeless persons increased 58%, from 418 in 2009 to 662 in 2010. Springfield also reported fewer families in transitional housing in 2010 (193) than in 2009 (246), a 22% drop.
Whatever the reason for the homeless growth, the fact that there is a need to decrease the homeless population is undeniable. However, without clean clothing, they are forced to wear stained and dirty clothes that do not fit properly and may be torn. They do not have the money for a cell phone and pay phones are a rarity, leaving the homeless without a phone. They live on the streets, vacant lots or homes, never knowing one day to the next where they will lay their head that night. Without appropriate clothing, a contact number or a permanent address, gaining employment is an unlikely event for these people. Lucky few are able to surpass the depressive life on the street and find employment and a suitable place to call home. With volunteers, donations and effort on the parts of everyone involved, hope can be restored. Every community can provide the tools and education it takes to turn homeless into a much lower problematic situation.
Please go over your paper with the following in mind. Thanks to PsyDAG for the following:
In the future, if nobody is available to proofread your work, you can do this yourself. After writing your material, put it aside for a day — at least several hours. (This breaks mental sets you might have that keep you from noticing problems.) Then read it aloud as if you were reading someone else's work. (Reading aloud slows down your reading, so you are less likely to skip over problems.)
(You can also either read it aloud to someone else or have someone else read it aloud to you! The latter works really well!)
If your reading goes smoothly, that is fine. However, wherever you "stumble" in your reading, other people are likely to have a problem in reading your material. Those "stumbles" indicate areas that need revising.
Once you have made your revisions, repeat the process above. Good papers often require many drafts.
And here are three really good websites that will help, too.