Government was happening last night – however, I don’t have much to add in the way of a summary. Last night’s meeting didn’t lend itself very well to the type of recap I like to write. As such, I kind of don’t want to do it. It’s like the Sun over here this morning. Perhaps I too should shift my focus to the issues that are of the greatest concern to the citizens of Lowell:
Ok, I’ll try. One point of interest arose out of a pair of responses to motions focused (again) on homelessness. First there was a response to a motion by Councilor Jenness seeking a report “On Progress Of Implementation Of The Winter Protocol Plan For Individuals And Families Experiencing Homelessness Within The City.” There was also a response to a motion by Councilor Robinson asking for “A Means To Increase LPD Foot Patrol In The Area Of Lou’s Deli On Middlesex Street, As Well As, Provide What Is The City’s Plan To Assist Businesses Due To Potential Increase In Unhoused In This Business Area.”
There were two registered speakers on Councilor Jenness’ motion who stated that they were members of the city’s unhoused population. Both indicated that they lived in tents – one along the river by the Centralville Dog Park. Both stated that they preferred living in tents to shelters and were opposed to any efforts at displacement.
Manager Golden updated the council on the ongoing efforts by the the city to address homelessness. In addition he stated that the city would not displace any individual unless they had alternative housing available. A line of questioning by Councilor Rourke emphasized that beds are currently available for those who want them.
In light of the above, what do we do about those that don’t want help? What do we do about those that are too ill and/or disruptive to house? Do we allow the encampments to remain along the river – thus creating a biohazard? Is our shelter system working? Is Middlesex Street a fun place to walk? Would you open a business next to Lou’s?
It’s a challenging philosophical issue: what are the limits of compassion? New York is currently kicking around the idea of lowering the threshold for involuntary commitment. I would expect to hear more of the same here.
In the meantime, I I thought Councilor Leahy said it well: “If someone doesn’t want to give up a tent for a hotel room, I don’t know where we go from there.”