Marquette leaders take good first steps with homelessness forum

We are happy to see that the issue of homelessness is being addressed in the Marquette area, and while we’re happy that our community is working to meet the needs of homeless people, we also realize there are real concerns that need to be analyzed.

We have a beautiful multiuse path that runs from McClellan Avenue to the downtown area. This path can be a real asset to visitors using it and it is a great reflection on our community. There have been many problems with homeless people loitering on and around the path. There have been reports of homeless people sleeping underneath the Seventh Street bridge on the multiuse path. If homeless people are sleeping on the path that does not reflect well on the city.

At the forum held last week at Messiah Lutheran Church it was recommended that the Warming Center be relocated away from the downtown district. We agree with that recommendation to relocate the Warming Center, but we also realize that may be easier said than done. The logistics for moving the Warming Center would also provide some challenges.

The concerns that the Peter White Public Library has regarding the homeless are also very recognizable. The library is for public use so everyone has a right to use the facility, but no one should be allowed to make it their permanent “daytime” home, where they sleep during the day or intimidate other users of the library. Once again, we want to say we are happy our community is helping homeless people, but there must be guidelines to be followed so the homeless don’t adversely impact the general population in our community.

Marquette Police Chief Blake Rieboldt said at the forum that the police department received three to four calls a day regarding issues with the homeless. Chief Rieboldt asked for the community to help find a solution that will work for the city and the homeless population here.

We hope that the forum held this past week is just the first of many to address these concerns. We also hope that members of the community get involved with future meetings to offer their thoughts and concerns about this issue. We believe there can be compromises made to allow our city to aid the homeless population without alienating the rest of the population.

We also hope part of the process of dealing with homelessness is working with these people to help them find housing and jobs so they can become productive members of our society. In many cases homeless people may have just had a couple of bad breaks and with a helping hand they will be able to get back on their feet. For those people, we are glad that our community is lending a helping hand.

We hope that this week’s forum is just the beginning of many more meetings to address the concerns and finding ways to work together to find solutions to the problems. We congratulate Doug Russell, the executive director of the Room at the Inn, and all others involved with the forum for taking the initiative to address these concerns. The concerns are real, the problems are real and we are confident that with the community working together they will come up with solutions that are real.