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Officials from the city of Modesto are inviting the public to speak about the ongoing issue of the homeless and city parks in a town hall meeting on Friday. The city continues to receive complaints about the homeless camping in parks as well as engage in drug use and other bad behavior. The community wants their parks back and want to work with city officials to make it possible.
This is of course in no way meant to criminalize homelessness or promote a negative stigma of homelessness. The focus is on the behavior of the individuals who break the law, such as using drugs and other actions that make the park uninviting, such as urinating and defecating in public or leaving used needles in park bathrooms. Individuals who feed the homeless when visiting a park only give the individual more of a reason to stay in the park and wait for others to beg for food or money. This can also cause the parks to become filled with liter.
One park in particular, Enslen Park, has always had homeless individuals camping out as long as anybody can remember. Over the past decade however, residents have noticed a steep incline of homeless which grows every day. Residents near the park have noticed an increase in drug use, drinking, and even theft from homes from the homeless population around the park.
City officials understand this is not an easy problem to address or fix. One of the biggest problems the city faces is communicating with the homeless population. The homeless do not exactly have a home address, landline, or cellular telephone to easily find and communicate with them. Some homeless individuals also have mental health disorders or do not speak English, which means attempting to communicate with them can present many challenges. City officials are planning on hiring more interpreters and mental health officials to help increase communication and provide more support between city officials and the homeless.
Previously, the city attempted to help curve this problem by increasing awareness of the city’s homeless shelter. This attempt failed as it did not have enough room to support even one fourth of the homeless population. The city has been looking in to funding a new non-profit homeless shelter that could house, feed, and support more individuals. The cities new plan of action will be to increase police presence near parks and provide more awareness to city services that can help with housing, job, and drug assistance.
I targeted the general population to help bring awareness to those who do not understand the issue and so those who are aware could voice their opinion. Homelessness is not a new issue and it is in every city around the world. The issue of homelessness will never go away but the hope is to allow families and the general population to go to a park without the worry of an individual panhandling, using drugs or urinating in front of them, or have to worry about paraphernalia such as needles around their children. The problem in Modesto and California for the matter, is the increase in the homeless population and specifically the crime increase in Modesto from said homeless population. The homeless tend to congregate around the downtown area, more specifically two parks within a half mile of each other. These parks are close to the bigger businesses with plenty of businessmen to panhandle from. I chose the method of written communication to spread the word about the homeless population issue because not only is it able to be printed in a newspaper, but it is also available online which means individuals can easily share a story rather than having to go buy a newspaper to see the article. The article I wrote is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities act and is as I did not discriminate against any individuals in my diverse group which does include those with mental and physical disabilities. I briefly addressed the issue of a language barrier because it may be an issue with some of the individuals. Because not all homeless individuals speak English or speak at all, I mentioned how the city is attempting to hire more interpreters so they can have the individuals readily available to communicate with those who do not speak English or are deaf. Another issue addressed is the need for mental health officials because there are those who suffer from a mental disorder and while they may speak English they require special attention. The communication dynamics are simple enough, promote awareness to the community in the hopes more individuals will speak up or maybe volunteer to help solve the problem. Allowing the public to be involved can help find more solutions.
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