I'm writing in response to The Astorian's recent article (Feb. 4) about the "lawlessness" in the Ninth Street park, discussed at the Feb. 1 Astoria City Council meeting, and to address a theme I heard at the meeting: the safety of our residents.
In reference to business owners who feel threatened, councilors repeatedly expressed the importance of keeping Astoria's residents safe. I agree with them. But rather than view public safety as an issue with business owners on one side and the unsheltered on the other, I ask our leaders to pursue solutions which provide safety for all residents.
I ask them to resolve to end chronic homelessness in Astoria. I keep hearing that this problem is unsolvable, but that simply isn't true. Other municipalities have ended veterans' homelessness, and gone on to end chronic homelessness.
If what we really mean is that addressing it would cost too much, we must consider how much money we already spend. We pay in the form of policing, jail, emergency room visits and in loss of revenue and quality of life for both business owners and the unhoused.
Our current approach is actually a very expensive way to deal with homelessness; many studies show that providing housing costs less than year-round shelter, or endlessly shuffling people between taxpayer-funded services.
This is a public health crisis, and we need those in power to help resolve it. By acting swiftly and humanely to protect our most vulnerable residents, they could address the needs and concerns of everyone involved.