It appears that there is a movement across the country right now that deserves our county's attention. This movement has no standard bearer or lobbyist group. It's core values are common sense and dignity. The methods are plain. The WSJ reports today that many municipalities are fostering "tent cities" for the area homeless rather than zoning and policing them out of existence. City actors and volunteer groups provide aid to the clusters of homeless, allowing them to live safely with dignity, and (gasp) some measure of self-determination.
The counter-argument is that these people should be packed into over-crowded shelters or counseling centers. A problem with this position is that many of our homeless citizens would like to live on their own without "the rules of the benevolent." Yes, they have substance abuse problems. All too often judgment gets in the way of assistance and the effort is lost.
Here in Howard County, we have a significant homeless population of between 100-200 people that do not live in shelters. For the most part, they live in the woods that surround our highways. They seek assistance in places like the Route One Day Center, that provide a place to eat, shower, and receive essential medical treatment without judgment or refusal. It is time for our county government to look at these other jurisdictions and find a way to be the first in Maryland to take a new approach to homelessness and the dignity of the individual.