Have some compassion

With regard to David Hall’s Oct. 10 letter, “Panhandling: It’s Time for Some Change,” I would remind the writer and all readers that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gives him the right to freedom of expression in this newspaper, also gives all of us the right to freedom of speech. So long as there are no physical threats which are criminal assaults, panhandling, begging or whatever one calls it is protected under freedom of speech.

The Asheville Homeless Network agrees with Mr. Hall that work is needed for our members and others. However, temporary labor organizations charge exorbitant fees and pay the workers little money. Additionally, many of our members have received so many citations from this police force and/or have criminal records that make it difficult to obtain employment. Serving “time” impedes a normal return to community.

Lastly, your anger needs to be directed at the City Council which has made no provisions such as a safe haven for the chronically homeless. People walk the streets because shelters offer little in the way of a place for the homeless during the day. A-HOPE closes its doors at noon; other shelters are closed during the day. Public restrooms are closed at night. Do not blame the victim. Have some compassion.

— John Spitzberg
Asheville Homeless Network

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One thought on “Have some compassion

  1. Thad

    Granted, there are (rarely) some kids who live on the street who panhandle because they choose to bum around pretending to be Boxcar Bertha. A few times, these kids have hassled me for pocket change, and that’s only been a few times in the past five or six years. I told one of them to get a job, and the others I’ve flipped off and told them to go fornicate themselves. I never give them money.

    However, I am noticing that a great many people who are living on the streets are there because they don’t have a choice. These are the ones who need some help. And a lot of them suffer from psychological illness, alcoholism and developmental disabilities. They should be in healthcare facilities or in halfway houses, but no one is making these facilities available to them or pushing them into going when they are available.

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