Planning commissioners’ remarks reflect lack of empathy

  • Friday, June 15, 2018 2:48pm
  • Opinion

Homeless people like to live in the woods and should just stay there.

If you can’t afford to live in Island County, you just need to “work for it.”

Responsible people can afford to live on Whidbey Island.

Those are the sentiments expressed by several members of the Island County Planning Commission during a meeting this week on a draft of the housing element, a document that will serve as a template for long-range planning efforts in the future.

The purpose of the housing element is to promote fair access to housing. But, some commission members don’t want fair access. They are apparently more concerned about the type of people it might bring to their neighborhoods.

People like the homeless, poor and unwashed. Only the “best” people get to live in nice places.

This kind of uninformed elitism is shameful and embarrassing. It has no place on a government board tasked with finding solutions for everyone, not just the well-to-do.

Officials across the island struggle to find ways to encourage construction of more affordable housing. Those who need affordable housing include people with multiple jobs, elderly people on fixed incomes, single parents and members of the military.

These are the people who just need to work harder, according to several insensitive and out-of-touch county planning commissioners.

Granted, not all the members of the planning commission expressed disdain for low-income people, but they remained silent when they should have spoken up.

Two planning commissioners were absent.

Members of the commission didn’t see any problems when they looked at the housing element previously.

People have had enough with homeless people who cause problems, use drugs and alcohol, panhandle and don’t want help.

It’s worth mentioning that the “troublesome” homeless population represents only a small number, and they definitely don’t represent all of the families on Whidbey Island who are simply struggling to eat and stay warm and dry.

The people responsible for planning for our future should be compassionate, forward-thinking and informed.

Unfortunately, a few members of the planning commission are none of those things.

What’s that saying again? Oh, yes — “There but for the grace of God, go I.”

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