Due to a potent combination of indifference and a lack of knowledge, along with the position of Pottstown borough council, street homelessness can only increase next winter.
It is a shame that it will come to this, particularly because a kind gentleman has offered a building for shelter. Also, there has been a promise of significant matching funds; enough to provide people with a safe, warm and dignified place to go.
Sadly, the people and the local government and Pottstown will not allow this to occur. It is convenient to blame the borough council. Of course their response is that there is an ordinance in place that will not allow shelter in Pottstown. However, shelters, by virtue of the population that they serve, must be walkable.
The awful truth is however that everyone else in Pottstown allows this to occur. I like to believe that if all of the Pottstonians truly understood the situation, they would force this situation to change and I believe they would encourage and invest in it.
I fully understand why people think that it isn’t good to see so many poor folks on the streets in Pottstown. But we have to recognize that most of those people are not homeless, but they are Pottstown residents.
What is difficult to understand though is that the people in power that say they don’t want to see poor folks on the street also will not invest in the change that will give them somewhere to go. This is unique to Pottstown. Many of our neighboring sizable towns support daytime and overnight shelter for those in need. You can look it up.
The greater issue I believe is this. Next November, as things begin to cool down there is no plan to provide any Shelter for homeless folks and Pottstown. My assumption is that the thirty or so people that will sleep in a shelter this winter will need to find a warm place on the street. Or, they will find some way to get a tent or a blanket and camp out in nearby woods. This is quite temporary because local police have been known to tell those camping out that they need to leave and they are encouraged to head towards Berks county. I rather doubt that Berks county has encouraged them to say that.
Here is the long and short of it. Like every other town around us there will always be a homeless population. We can come together as a community to provide somewhere safe for them during the day, and at night, or we can pretend that we don’t have to do anything and then complain when we see them huddled in a sleeping bag on the sidewalk. This can and should change. I really have no confidence that the borough council will have any reason to act with appropriate kindness and mercy until thousands and thousands of voices tell them that this is something we must accomplish together.
I tremble for my town of Pottstown when I hear the Haves telling the Have Nots where they may walk, or sit, or sleep.