Homeless people should not live in a park. This is for a couple of reasons: their own safety, as well as the safety of others.
Some homeless people have mental challenges, substance abuse issues and criminal records which may pose a risk to the public. Others do not have these issues and pose no risk. For either group, a public park is not the answer.
Situational or temporarily homeless people usually utilize shelters. It is the chronic homeless that often have challenges that make them difficult to house. It is not being mean or negative to say that this is the case, it’s just stating reality. Homeless people need to have access to indoor living space.
What does it say about a community that lets homeless people live in a park? The community should make a commitment to find safe housing for these individuals, even if it’s untraditional homes such as “tiny houses.”
Some communities build tiny portable houses unlike trailer homes that can be moved. This could include portable houses made out of recycled metal storage containers (yes those that you see on trains and outside construction sites).
Finding a solution could be a project for the local university in partnership with residents, local government, social service agencies and faith communities. We also have a federal government that has committed to providing more supportive housing.
The timing is right. The community needs to put its money where its mouth is. If we truly believe in taking care of the homeless and the needy then we need to pay for it and fund more living spaces for safety and dignity. Also if the goal is to move the homeless into more stable living environments, we need to discourage “tent cities” so these individuals can begin reshaping their lives.
The bottom line is that everyone needs a place to call home — even if it’s a halfway house or shelter.