In Marcos Breton’s column, “Homeless plan proves painful for businesses” (Local, March 5), he bravely steps out on a limb to advocate for a downtrodden and beleaguered population in our city. No, it is not those who are homeless, it is for the apparently disenfranchised and underrepresented downtown business community.
Breton stresses the “good intentions” of Mayor Darrell Steinberg’s “crusade” to end homelessness, but then mentions that two homeless people died sleeping outside of City Hall were in violation of a city ordinance. Instead of using the tragedy to underscore the gravity of the situation he uses it to accuse the mayor of politicizing the issue needlessly. Where’s the compassion?
Breton writes of fecal matter, urine and substance abuse issues to bolster an attitude that dehumanizes and demonizes our homeless population, and spends little time dissecting the deeper societal issues that allow so many vulnerable people to fall through the cracks.
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His attempt to position the downtown business community, among the city’s most politically connected and resource-rich constituencies, as an aggrieved and impotent class seems absurd. Steinberg and the rest of the City Council can hardly be accused of ignoring and maligning the business community, or trying to discourage downtown development.
Steinberg’s willingness to address the issue of homelessness seriously and immediately, after only two months in office, is no reason to characterize downtown as a pungent dystopia.
The column misses the opportunity to explore the frustrating complexity of homelessness and advocate for an approach where all citizens understand their role in remedying this problem. This involves more than opening city-owned buildings downtown. To be successful, people in every neighborhood will have to open their mind to effective solutions.
Until everyone is able to put skin in the game and set reasonable expectations, we are never going to see this problem go away no matter how contented it might make some feel to not have to encounter it on a daily basis.
Tre Borden is a consultant, entrepreneur and art enthusiast and the principal of Tre Borden and Co. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.