Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fullerton's Homeless Shelter Debate

As someone who pays attention to what's happening in my community, I have followed the proposed Fullerton Homeless Shelter with great interest.  I am particularly interested in the debate surrounding the issue.

On one side, you have Fullerton's homeless population and their advocates, who point out the obvious human need that really exists, which makes a shelter necessary.

On the other side, you have residents, business owners, and families who live or work near the proposed shelter, who argue that it will decrease their property values and endanger their children.  The proposed shelter is very near Commonwealth Elementary School.

Because I have heard both sides, I have difficulty taking a hard-line position.  I care deeply about the needs of Fullerton's homeless, but I don't want to endanger children.

It seems as though we, the residents of Fullerton, are forced to choose between the interests of two vulnerable groups: the homeless and the children.  I can't help but wonder if this was deliberate, an attempt to pit one segment of the community against another, so that nothing ultimately happens.

I recently heard activist Cleve Jones speak.  He works with trade unions, and he said a common tactic of large corporations is to pit one group of workers against another, to decrease their power and their voice.

I see a similar thing happening here.  Politicians and the interests they represent have created a situation that is inherently flawed and fraught with conflict.  I am sincerely confused and disappointed.

There is a city council meeting this Tuesday in which the council will discuss the proposed shelter.  I'm sure people will be speaking passionately on both sides of the issue.  As for me, I will be there with a pen, a notebook, and a sincere desire to understand and document what I see and hear.

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