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LETTER: 'Throwing money' at homelessness won't fix it

'Promoting independence and self-reliance, for all those physically and mentally able, would be a huge step in the right direction,' says letter writer
2022-02-28 Barrie library downtown RB 2
The Barrie Public Library's downtown branch is shown in a file photo.

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I’ve recently read a couple of articles on treating the homeless better and helping them more. I often wonder, how many people are actually doing something about it rather than just talking about it?

As a member of a local church, I contribute about 12 per cent of my income to those in need. I also contribute another 15 to 20 per cent of my time in service. I assume that a good portion of my taxes is also going to assist those in need. I would hope that the tax contribution is going to necessities like housing, food and clothing, and not to addictive habits.

There is quite a difference between a “handout” and a “hand up.” I do not believe that throwing money at the problem will ever be a solution. I understand that we will always have the poor and homeless amongst us … usually about 20 per cent of the total population. I would love to see that number at zero per cent.

Promoting independence and self-reliance, for all those physically and mentally able, would be a huge step in the right direction. There appear to be vast numbers of employers looking for warm bodies to fill vacancies wherever I look. Even if jobs were not available, there are a great many service opportunities available in the community. We encourage our family members to never expect something for nothing. It creates generations of problems.

I went to the downtown library on a recent Tuesday night. My wife and daughter were there and we do not feel comfortable with the area after dark. On my way into the library (6:55 p.m.), I noticed a drug deal taking place out in the open. A large quantity of marijuana was being exchanged for cash. No one paid any attention to me as I walked by.

On our way out, I noticed a young man taking off all of his clothes, with the exception of his pants (7:15 p.m.). Almost naked, he began shadow boxing in the widows of the library.

I also noticed a lone young woman get out of her car to come to library, observe the young pugilist, and quickly return to her car and leave. I assume she felt unsafe.

Panhandling is illegal. If the police are constantly checking and fining panhandlers, and others behaving suspiciously, I would hope that many of our problems would begin to fade away. Addressing problems, rather than hiding from problems, would make a lot more people in Barrie feel a lot safer. My 88-year-old mother was approached by a male panhandler in a parking lot of a grocery store. I know she felt unsafe. She should not have to worry about going out to shop, even alone.

I applaud those who raise private funds and help attract tourists to Barrie by any means. I applaud those who roll up their sleeves and assist the homeless to the shelters, to find employment or feed them.

Throwing more money at the problem is not a solution. Hoping someone else will help is not a solution. Ignoring the problem is also not a solution. I would love to hear what others in the community are actually doing to be part of the solution.

Neil Thompson