EDITORIAL: Homelessness issue cannot be solved without action

homeless cartoon

The issue: On Wednesday, the Bowling Green Daily News published an editorial that attacked the homeless community in Bowling Green, specifically those who hang around in Fountain Square Park.

Our stance: Addressing problems by blaming the people affected by them rather than the issue itself is not productive and won’t solve anything.

The recent editorial published by the Daily News, “Downtown panhandling must be dealt with,” has struck a chord within the community. The Daily News received several letters to the editor condemning the editorial, and a grassroots group held an assembly on Saturday called Fountain Square 4 All in response. This event was held in Fountain Square Park and aimed to humanize the issue of homelessness.

It is true that the poverty rate in Bowling Green is high and many people are facing hard times. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 28.9 percent of Bowling Green residents fell below the poverty line in 2013; this is almost twice the national average of 14.5 percent in that same year. This issue should be addressed directly, not by blaming and punishing those affected by it for ruining Bowling Green’s reputation.

One of the issues the Daily News brought up was that after so much time and money had been spent on Fountain Square Park, its image was being ruined by homeless people who spend time there. The solution it offered was to have police enforce laws against panhandling, which would only criminalize homelessness and make the lives of the people who experience it worse.

Instead of attacking homeless people, we should be helping them and trying to solve the larger issue of poverty. In Bowling Green, there are organizations that directly help people experiencing homelessness. One in particular, HOTEL INC, provides services like Homeless Outreach and Street Medicine programs that deliver help to those who need it.

Homelessness is an issue that needs to be addressed, but complaining about how bad homeless people make our town look will not solve anything. To spark immediate change, there are many options like volunteering at HOTEL INC or other similar services. Donating toiletries, socks and gloves to homeless shelters in the area like the Salvation Army is another option.