Area homelessness a community problem

To the Journal editor:

Homelessness has become a much discussed issue in our town. While it is not unique to Marquette County, homeless people are especially obvious here because of our small town way of life where people notice and care about each other.

In some ways, we are victims of the economic prosperity we enjoy in Marquette which pushes the cost of housing beyond people’s ability to afford to live here — even for those who have jobs.

The homeless, then, exact an economic cost to the community in terms of the services of police, hospital, social agencies, etc. It becomes a viscous cycle which labels those who are caught in the situation of being homeless as the “problem” when the problem is a societal one; we all have a stake in it.

A Homeless Shelter Task Force is currently studying the issues around moving Room At The Inn from a rotating to a permanent shelter program. The task force involves agencies, government, RATI representatives, church members and interested community people.

We will be traveling to various cities in January to study shelter models that work in other communities with an eye to developing a plan for Marquette County that will be compassionate and transformative for both shelter residents and the community.

Kudos to the churches and volunteers who have supported the homeless ministry for the past 10 years. It is time to move to a more sustainable model.

This is a community challenge and we must tackle it as a community.