Letter: Homeless camp removal shows need for better government response

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The heartless action that destroyed a homeless encampment in Asheville on Feb. 1, one of the harshest weather days and nights of the season, is one that should shame those decision-makers responsible for ordering it to be done. While to err is human, to err in such a thoughtless, inhumane, cruel fashion, knowing those affected would most likely lose their belongings, their shelter, possibly not finding a place to shelter for the night, is inexcusable, in my opinion.

In addition, that government entities partner — one (Department of Transportation) destroying, the other (Asheville Police Department) supposedly rescuing — hardly makes sense to me, even under good weather conditions. If I had a choice, which obviously does not exist, my tax dollars would be spent only on providing assistance in these instances, just as my volunteer dollars do through various helping agencies in town.

So, the paradoxical situation is that we pay taxes to allow destruction of humans’ property, means of surviving and dignity, while we voluntarily pay to improve those circumstances. Again, it makes no sense.

I would much rather to be able to realistically expect government agencies to think and act positively toward all their constituents, assisting those volunteers who are already showing us the humanitarian way as well as finding creative ways to improve life for the many underserved in the area.

— Sandra Houts

Editor’s note: The nonprofit BeLoved Asheville announced that, following public outcry, the NCDOT will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance about removing homeless camps (avl.mx/8zr). Meanwhile, the Citizen Times reported that city and DOT officials are working together on new guidelines about camp removals (avl.mx/8zs).


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5 thoughts on “Letter: Homeless camp removal shows need for better government response

  1. Mike R.

    The problem is that we are much too complacent in allowing these sorts of encampments to get started in the first place.
    Just back from Charlotte where a large homeless “tent city” just off of downtown was ordered dismantled after they found a huge rat infestation throughout the area. One video showed workers lifting a tarp from under a tent and dozens of rats scrambling for cover. In this instance, Mecklenburg County took the lead but got into a scrabble with the City of Charlotte about lack of their support. The people in the encampment were given very humane options (county renting motel rooms for 90 days for example), and even then, some of these people didn’t leave until forced out the day of the cleanup.

    Back to Asheville and homelessness in general. I believe we are much too permissive with these people with regards to where they choose to live. Many of them do NOT want to go to shelters because they would have to follow rules and/or get cleaned up from drug use. In those cases, I believe they should not be allowed to “camp” on public property under and circumstances; certainly not under a bridge and build fires for warmth. Asheville continues to put up with an ongoing “needle” problem; that is homeless and other IV drug users littering the ground with used needles. Unbelievable!

    Provide compassion, of course. But public safety should be paramount, that is safety for all citizens.

  2. Cheisa

    Maybe the big sign that said dot property would be a clue. But no, in this town laws and rules only apply to certain folks. Beloved Asheville has been around for so many years and it seems the homeless population is just getting worse. Maybe to much help is enabling. We know we’re not producing that many homeless people is WNC, instead because of our enabling attitude, people flock here. Just a thought.

  3. Enlightened Enigma

    yep, too many enablers here that coddle the non productive daily. AVL is a homeless magnet and it’s time to stop the attraction!

  4. Xiden lost, we all know it.

    Yep, forcing people, unemployed by the failed government plandemic rules that can’t afford the demunists’ tax increases to pay for supporting the homeless, and other demunist “justice” agendas is “fair”.

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