Letter: Avoid stereotyping the homeless with broad brush

Editor,

I want to build on Ms. Duggan’s letter published in the, June 23 Whidbey News-Times.

Foremost, I want to thank Ms. Duggan for her selfless service as a social worker and for her subsequent community service.

There are four points I would like to add:

First, let’s all be mindful of painting members of any segment of our community with the same broad brush – the homeless, the military, the Catholics, the Rotarians, etc.

Most of the homeless I have met and served through The Haven or Spin Café seem to exhibit the same proportion of positive and unattractive traits as my sheltered friends. Most seem to accept responsibility and are very mindful of their situation. Most seem interested in and pursue self-improvement. And most are appreciative of (if a little embarrassed by) the assistance provided by our local service clubs, churches, agencies and governing officials.

Second, there is certainly a more visible minority who are not very socially aware. Their situations are oftentimes more complex and their behavior sometimes uncontrollable.

Third, one impactful and near-term step that the community could take to address loitering is to implement a drop-in center where unsheltered residents could go when the Haven closes at 6:30 every morning. Not having a place to go can naturally result in loitering. Most of us who are sheltered don’t loiter because we stay home.

Lastly, with respect to the reference of the proposed affordable housing project on Pioneer, it should be clarified that this is workforce housing, not housing for the homeless, though five of the 50 units may house homeless veterans. Note that Oak Harbor has a number of existing affordable, workforce housing projects and in addition to being very handsome, they are not magnets for “drug deals and drunkenness.”

George Saul

Oak Harbor

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