LETTER: Homeless encampments no simple issue

As Seattle is displaying, complications arise, and solutions can present themselves only with commitment.

Hopefully, the Port Townsend City Council will create code that enables tent villages in which homeless people can exist.

People who work with this issue weekly, like the Port Townsend police, see the need for structured camps and expect the number of homeless people here to increase.

This is of course a national issue and, as Seattle is showing, complex and difficult to address. Everybody deserves shelter. Everybody.

Seattle is showing the kind of political courage I’m hoping Port Townsend can emulate, which involves taking risks and making mistakes, learning from them and moving on.

It would make more sense for Port Townsend to learn from the Affordable Housing Action Group-sponsored homeless camp at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds than to dismiss the camp, as your interview with Councilman Bob Gray seems to suggest he has.

Realistically, Port Townsend code enabling tent villages will proceed from city commitment to addressing this complex of issues and the concomitant policies and resources.

The poor, the homeless, face daily struggles and stresses us more fortunate do not. So they sometimes, some of them, do not behave like prim middle-class people. They may get unruly.

Our policies should acknowledge this and simultaneously accept these folks as our poor, our neighbors, our responsibility.

Frank Hoffman,

Port Townsend

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