Editorial: Camping is not a solution to homelessness

Camping is not a solution to homelessness.

 

Amarillo has a relatively new area for those dealing with the problem of being homeless, an area consisting primarily of tents — Christ Church Camp of New Beginnings located on private property on Southwest First Avenue in north Amarillo.

This tent area began in November.

Amarillo has seen similar attempts to help the homeless, with what is sometimes referred to as “tent cities.”

This latest attempt to help the homeless is admirable, and hopefully this will help some get on their feet and off the street.

However, what amounts to camping is not a long-term solution to homelessness.

Some may consider such a statement harsh, but reality is sometimes harsh.

The truth is Amarillo goes above and beyond what many cities do to help homeless individuals, and such services should be used as a priority to help the homeless.

For example, Amarillo has 655 “year-round beds” which can be used by the homeless, including Salvation Army. Facilities such as Salvation Army have restrictions and requirements that some homeless individuals choose not to respect. The question is why? Common sense indicates addiction and mental health issues are two reasons.

In addition to more than 650 beds for the homeless, Amarillo has an abundance of facilities and services for those who are homeless.

Here are but a couple:

“Heal the City” has been around in Amarillo since 2014. HTC is an impressive undertaking by local doctors and medical personnel which provides quality health care to the needy — free of charge. And HTC is expanding its services with Shalom Clinic.

Panhandle Adult Rebuilding Center, which also helps Amarillo’s homeless, recently announced it is expanding to a five-day-a-week schedule.

Let us be clear — this editorial is not a criticism of Christ Church Camp of New Beginnings.

Those who see a problem and do something to provide a solution rather than complain are few and far between these days. And as long as the city is confident that this tent-focused attempt to help the homeless is safe and meeting city requirements, here’s hoping it helps get at least some people off the streets.

However, Amarillo has seen “tent cities” before, and while providing a place for the homeless to camp might work for awhile, it is not a long-term solution to homelessness, especially when Amarillo provides services which are more beneficial.

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