Do the homeless in Kalamazoo have a say in where they want to set-up their encampments?

They believe so, do you?

Mlive is reporting on a group of homeless people in the city of Kalamazoo who are complaining about a city provided location for their encampment, they say what the city has provided is “inhumane”.

One of the six homeless people who signed an agreement with the city to move their “encampment” outside of a city-owned vacant fire station at 116 West Cedar Street say the site is inhumane due to:

  • exposure to the sun
  • overflowing toilets
  • no access to running water
  • nightly noise from nearby bars and a proximity to dumpsters.

Carl Wiseman, one of six people who signed the agreement with the city was quoted in the article stating:

How about they come out here and endure this like we are…You know, put our shoes on for a minute ... we're trash to the city. They're giving us the symbolism of that.

The first question that came to my mind was; why do homeless people have a right to determine where they will live on the streets?

I then thought; could it be that since the city has designated where they can live on the streets that then puts the onus on the city of Kalamazoo to provide what some would consider a “humane” spot to live on the streets?

The homeless in Kalamazoo started what they called a demonstration on August 19th to highlight their perception of a lack of overnight shelter space in the city.

The City Manager of Kalamazoo, Jim Ritsema, did agree that more needs to be done to provide protection from the elements. He stated that a large tent will be furnished for the homeless to eat and take shelter in during inclement weather.

The real question is; are there enough beds in shelters to help the homeless?  If there are not then how does the city of Kalamazoo address this problem?

If there are enough beds to provide shelter for the homeless then why are they not taking advantage of those opportunities?

If they are not taking advantage of these beds due to their own reasons then why is it on the taxpayers of Kalamazoo to provide the shelter, food and rules that they want to live free by?

There appears to be quite a bit of information and answers needed before a shorter and longer term solution can be addressed.

By the way the homeless people do have an attorney from Ann Arbor, Denise Heberle, who has been advising them on their rights and has stated that she may represent them in a case against the city of Kalamazoo. Ms. Heberle stated yesterday that the city is not negotiating in good faith.  I would ask Ms. Heberle if she and the homeless are also not negotiating in “good faith”, to me it appears perhaps not.

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