Letter to the Editor: A less than an informed decision from the commissioners
I am writing this letter to address, what may have been, well, let’s say less than an informed decision the commissioners made to support a homeless shelter.
Here are some facts which can be found by a simple google search regarding the type shelter proposed.
Based on feedback by some members of the supporting nonprofits there are approximately 10 to 15 truly homeless individuals in our community. The facility proposed will accommodate 43 individuals which means there will be 28 additional homeless individuals introduced to our community from other areas. The proposed facility is for individuals only and has no requirements or restrictions, which means that anyone who shows up can get immediate housing, no questions asked. According to Mrs. Wood, there is a no questions asked policy.
According to a study conducted by the Journal of Criminology, the presence of a shelter causes property crime to increase 56% within a 1/2 mile radius of that shelter, with thefts from vehicles, other thefts, and vandalism driving the increase. The study also found that personal crime increased within a three block radius of the shelter with crimes of assault, battery and rape driving those statics. The study also found that similar facilities caused an increased burden on first responders relating mainly to drug overdose. The study also found that a similar proposed facility increased localized drug use and drug sales. The study also indicate that similar facilities cause an increased burden on first responders relating mainly to drug overdose. I could not find empirical data on the decrease of property values as they will differ given the different types of property, residential, commercial, inner city, rural, etc., however the studies do indicate property values surrounding similar facilities will cause property values to decrease.
The latest study in 2020 completed by the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless found that there were not enough identifiable homeless in Moffat County to be included in the study.
I reached out to local recovering drug addicts and intermittent homeless individuals and asked their opinion of the proposed facility. Here are a couple of the comments I received. One female who is a current recovering drug addict and intermittent homeless individual stated that if the facility had been available when she was using she would have utilized it for a place to hook up for, and use drugs, however she would have been afraid of rape. Two males, who are convicted felons, one from another state released due to COVID, indicated they might use the facility, however they feared assault and theft of their belongings from others outside the area and would not use the facility if anther option were available.
I think there needs to be more in-depth study of the impact on the community by the proposed facility before a vote of support is given by well informed local leaders. I encourage the commissioners to rescind their letter of support.
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I’ve lived in Moffat County since 1976 and I hope to live here for the rest of my life. I want people in our community to thrive and lead healthy lives.