Addressing community's concerns on homelessness
Concerned citizens, individuals from a number of community organizations and representatives from City, County, and State departments all gathered at the Civic Center Tuesday evening to discuss the issue of homelessness in El Dorado.
The City Commission led a fact-finding conversation to address questions received from community members regarding homelessness. City Manager David Dillner facilitated the conversation which began following a welcome by Mayor Vince Haines who also thanked everyone in attendance for their interest and desire to make a difference. He expressed a sentiment felt by many in the room, “We do not have an answer, if we did we wouldn’t be having this meeting.”
Mr. Dillner posed the question, “What is homelessness?” in order to understand the problem and work towards a solution. However, it should be noted there were no homeless individuals in attendance.
Multiple definitions were recognized to exist as different organizations each use their own standards to define an individual as homeless. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the definition of homeless includes four broad categories: people who are living in a place not meant for human habitation; people living in an emergency shelter; people living in transitional housing; people who are exiting an institution where they temporarily resided.
Mr. Dillner recognized the importance of viewing all facets to the issue. Those facets are varied, some may yet to be identified, and may not overlap. While many concerns were raised it was acknowledged that a solution will not be found with one conversation, and a task force will be created to continue the conversation.
It was noted that a cold weather shelter, located in the basement of the First Church of the Nazarene at 202 N. Taylor is open November 1st through April 1st.
One thing is for certain. More than facing an issue of “homelessness” El Dorado is facing an opportunity to respond to a universal condition with compassion and empathy. No matter how we define homelessness in El Dorado, how we respond to it will define us.