Letters to the Editor for Feb. 22, 2018

Helping homeless will take political willpower, ‘American know-how’

Authorities and common folk alike, from San Diego, California, to Bellingham, Washington, are sorely afflicted by the homelessness problem and are largely “stumped” as far as coming up with a suitable answer to it is concerned.

It is perfectly obvious that things on the homelessness front are getting worse. Most frightening is the realization that scores of thousands of our fellow American citizens exist largely outside of the protections bestowed by our social safety net, and are left mostly to their own devices. To get any sort of meaningful help — real help — the homeless almost have to commit an actual crime in order, at least, to get themselves into jail and its rough version of “shelter.” Each and every day, for the homeless, is a desperate quest for bare survival.

Fortunately, the issue of homelessness is now at least being placed front and center on public officials’ agendas in a manner that wasn’t true several years ago. Some of the solutions being advocated for handling the problem are doomed to failure and others will enjoy some success, but the important thing is that homelessness is no longer being swept under a rug.

It cannot be swept under a rug any longer. Whether it’s a case of hepatitis outbreaks among the homeless in San Diego or gunfights in homeless camps in Seattle, the daily terrors that gnaw at the homeless have festered to the point where they have become community-wide problems. “Hate us or help us,” the homeless can legitimately say, “the one thing you can’t do is IGNORE us.” Words are, to be sure, not curative in themselves, but they serve at least to shove the homelessness vexation front and center into the larger public consciousness.

Eventually, this problem will fall before a hefty application of proverbial American know-how. That much is certain. all that’s required is political willpower. A country with a $20 trillion GNP and a technology sector of unparalleled sophistication simply HAS to get a handle on the problem of homelessness. The American Superpower is able to cope with this problem, or any other problem.

Where there is a will to fairly and effectively solve the problem of homelessness, there is a way.

Frank W. Goheen, Vancouver

Take public transit to help the Earth, preserve your health

As most people know, air pollution is and has been on the rise all around the world and the effects affect us all. Crops, animals, bodies of water, forests and our ozone layer are being badly damaged by human air pollution. People in some countries have to wear masks, China is buying “fresh air” from Canada.

The biggest players in air pollution are the burning of fossil fuels, coal, natural gases and gasoline. These things support our everyday life, from heating to transportation to manufacturing. Consequently, if we do not reduce the amount of air pollution, our planet’s temperature will, in fact, keep rising, which will melt ice caps and raise sea levels. Going to the extreme, there may be so much carbon-dioxide in our atmosphere that our sun will be blocked out completely, leaving our planet cold and lifeless.

Now, you may find yourself asking, “Well what can I do?” or thinking, “I am not a factory, responsible for all the air pollution.”s

However, there is something you can do and it is a small something: use our city buses. Something this simple is exceptionally eco-friendly (80 percent less carbon-monoxide put out than the average car), and there are numerous other reason to use our public transportation that will interest you.

Our local bus system, C-Tran, is very reliable during all seasons. Riding the bus also saves a pretty penny, with gas prices on the upsurge, C-Tran offers very cheap and affordable prices. Additionally, for the first time, all high school students in Clark County can receive free transportation. It is called the Youth Opportunity Pass (valued at $300) and is available for free to any student who wants one, no restrictions apply.

Furthermore, it is a proven fact that taking the bus is safer than riding in a vehicle. Riding the bus also is less stressful, so it is even safer for your health. Please think about taking the bus to do your errands or go to work/school. The Earth and yourself will thank you.

Hallie Morris, Washougal