February 21, 2023
Laura J. Ashley
Hello Mr. Mayor and City Council Members,
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.
I read the material for the Housing Action Plan and I have to say the following. You are still doing things that are the same as you have always done which will have the same results. Homelessness and the rising number of deaths in the unhoused communities is still growing faster than you are coming up with real solutions, and acting on them. Do you honestly think a shelter with 180 new beds is progress?
This is your solution for your citizens who are in crises, who are dying from cold, and the heat? I think it is one big pacifier shoved at the public to deceive and continue to spend the federal dollars the way that you want to. You use language that really doesn’t explain anything and can be vague enough to explain anything the way you want to. I will give you examples to support what I am accusing you of.
The Consolidated Plan lists only one goal for affordable housing, but goals 2 and 3 are clearly about how you want the city to look. Capitol Improvements and economic opportunities are important, yes, but should not be in the immediate plan at all. Enough with the sports arena, or beautifying neighborhoods. I am sorry but to put those things in front of saving people’s lives in unconscionable.
The one year action plan states the specific activities you say are meant to SERVE the very low and low income persons; yet you clearly put the development of affordable housing in the second slot of the list, with ‘Infrastructure and Public Improvements” listed as number 1. Not too specific either.
The CDBG eligible activities are very specific and have limitations and restrictions in regards to property acquisition and improvements according to HUD. Again I will say that your plan is not specific enough to tell if you are abiding by the restrictions.
The following statement by SHRA has been said over and over for almost 20 years:
"SHRA continues to participate in discussions about the best methods to reach out to homeless
persons and how to assess individual needs as part of ongoing coordination efforts."
SHRA, SSF, and the City Council have had enough discussions and made a lot of promises it has not kept. It has consistently had priorities mixed up by putting human lives second to making money, beautifying neighborhoods, hiring people to perform jobs for services when the services should come after!.
Housing first! Human Lives first.
The shelters you have promised in all districts…hasn’t happened. You open temporary shelters only to shut them down and scatter people again. You buy a property you say is for the homeless but then we hear only 15% of that property will benefit the homeless as you dream up economic opportunities instead. Your planning has failed, your actions have fallen short and your empty promises to the public is becoming very clear for all to see. Millions of dollars (well over 60 million) every single year, are given to this county to help the homeless and that first step is “ENOUGH SHELTER FOR EVERYONE!” Then you move to step 2. All the other steps have importance, but are not going to help the 1200 unhoused children out there, or help the veterans who should never see one single day of homelessness after serving our country. Women are being beaten and raped because they don't have a safe room with a locked door. Seniors dying from weather extremes. Do I need to go on?
Temperatures this week will drop to 31 degrees/ 28 degrees with the wind chill factor. Are you prepared to help 9,000 human beings get “inside” even if it is just an abandoned property? More citizens that you serve are going to die in that kind of cold. I have lost faith in all of you, but still hold out HOPE that you will do something different. Something that does not serve you but serves the people that NEED it.
In closing, the bible clearly states in the book of Proverbs:
Whoever shuts their ears to the cry of the poor
will also cry out and not be answered.
Those who give to the poor will lack nothing,
but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses.
Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.
Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD,
and he will reward them for what they have done.