Complaining works. A Salem Reporter story, "Salem City Council to reconsider west Salem managed camp after opposition from neighbors," tells the outraged tale.
West Salem's city councilor wants the council to reconsider allowing a managed homeless camp on Wallace Road after residents objected to the plan.
At a Monday meeting, the council will hear a motion from Councilor Jim Lewis to reconsider the council’s previous approval of a managed camp along Wallace Road following overwhelming opposition to the project voiced during a Tuesday meeting at Salemtowne.
In council documents, Lewis explained that he wanted the council to withdraw its approval until city staff analyzed the site to determine if it’s feasible and met with west Salem neighbors to discuss alternate locations in that ward.
I can't be sure about this, but from the tone of the Salemtowne meeting -- lots of shouting and interruptions of those trying to explain how the homeless camp would operate -- this feels like a bunch of conservative Republicans taking a Trumpian stand against supposed government overreach.
A town hall over a planned managed homeless camp in west Salem turned vitriolic Tuesday night as hundreds of people gathered in a crowded room at Salemtowne to ask questions and voice concerns.
The gathering was tense, with audience members repeatedly cutting off or shouting over a handful of speakers from the city of Salem and homeless service provider Church at the Park who were there to answer questions over two hours.
What's decidedly strange is that so far as I know, there wasn't much (or any) opposition to the managed camps that have been set up in north Salem. I guess west Salem residents are just crankier about doing their part to deal with the homeless crisis.
However, City officials did screw up by not engaging in community outreach before revealing the plan for a micro shelter homeless camp on city-owned property on Wallace Road just a few days before the City Council was set to approve the camp.
On the whole, the micro shelter approach seems way better than letting homeless people camp in city parks or downtown sidewalks. The shelters are small, one design being just 64 square feet, but they're a heck of a lot better than a tent or cardboard box.
What's sad, of course, is that living in a glorified shed passes for progress in housing the homeless. This shouldn't be happening in a country as well off as the United States. Our social safety net has so many holes in it, it's better termed a Swiss Cheese approach to doing as little as possible for our most vulnerable citizens.
I'm no expert on homelessness.
But the reading I've done says that "housing first" is the best way to help homeless people break the cycle of living on the streets. Give the homeless a home, even a very basic one, and they're much more likely to find a job, stop excessive drinking or drug use, get healthier, and otherwise transition out of what's caused them to become homeless.
It sure seems like the federal government should be footing the bill for micro shelters. Absent that, there's a push to get people in Salem to donate the $5,000 cost of a micro shelter. A Statesman Journal story tells how to get involved with this effort.
Those wanting to sponsor a shelter or learn more can email: