Letters from readers: Plight of homeless reflects on community

To the Editor:

I visited the unhoused site along with a few of my colleagues to deliver blankets and food items. Speaking to a gentleman who was staying out at the unhoused site I was able to learn about some of the barriers these folks are facing. 

Barriers such as: access to housing, transportation, access to hygiene/showers, documents to obtain employment, without a place to mail documents there being no way to get these documents to obtain employment, and no shelter at the unhoused site.

What the gentlemen told me next really impacted me, he invited me or any of the Ontario City Council to stay out at the unhoused site for one night. 

“Sir, when you go home tonight, I’ll be out in the cold with nowhere to go, no working phone, no place to cook food!” 

“We’re being told to leave our vehicles to put up a tent on this unhoused site? No thank you!”

I asked this gentleman where he was coming from, to which he replied, “Sir, my family has been here since the 1950s.” 

It has been good for me to go out to the unhoused site and learn from our fellow community members, where I can help others during the winter months in this time of giving. What I continue to learn, before I come to my own conclusion about others, is to understand and purposefully place myself in the margins. What we are seeing are indicators for the overall health of our community.

– Eddie Melendrez