Homelessness isn't somebody else's problem. It's our problem. All of us.
The most important message members of our editorial board took from The Journal's five-day series, "Homeless in Siouxland," this week is that no single sector of our community is responsible for managing what is a multi-faceted challenge.
Confronting homelessness indeed takes a village.
We commend those who do what they can and who advocate for more, from big-hearted volunteers to social service providers to medical providers to government offices to law enforcement agencies. Our community is filled with individuals willing to extend a helping hand to those who have nowhere to go.
What's needed, however, is a coordinated plan designed to address root causes of homelessness and focused on the long term. Without this strategy, homelessness persists.
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To this end, we praise efforts by the Siouxland Street Project, a coalition of local leaders representing a cross-section of the city and region, to identify needs and solutions. Within this coalition exists, we believe, a reservoir of will, compassion, expertise, creativity and energy necessary to affect significant change.
In our view, nothing will produce greater impact on local homelessness than creation of a dedicated community center. We urge the Siouxland Street Project to continue its pursuit of this goal in aggressive fashion.
In a Thursday story for the "Homeless in Siouxland" series written by staff writer Nick Hytrek, local leaders described centers in Rapid City, South Dakota, and Sacramento, California, at which the homeless receive some combination of shelter, mental health treatment, alcohol and substance abuse treatment and a variety of social services in safe, effective fashion under one roof.
We understand obstacles like funding (we do not suggest this is the financial responsibility of only local government) exist. However, we are encouraged by community discussion focused on the need for a Sioux City center modeled after the Rapid City and Sacramento centers, including a productive June 1 local meeting organized by the Siouxland Street Project at which leaders from social services, health care, private business, local and federal governments and law enforcement discussed a detoxification center. Perhaps a detox center is the place to start and something on which to build.
Because commitment is strong and momentum is growing, we believe something more meaningful than today's to local homelessness is within reach.
As a community, we may be arriving late to this issue. But to paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr., it's always the right time to do what is right.
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