Lowell officers take into account how to answer metropolis’s rising homeless inhabitants
Lowell Metropolis Council on Tuesday will talk about a handful of motions that will handle how town responds to individuals experiencing homelessness.
An rising variety of individuals experiencing homelessness have come to Lowell as a result of town affords extra social companies in comparison with its neighbors, mentioned Marissa Dupont, a member of Lowell Solidarity, an area advocacy group. With over 200 unhoused individuals within the metropolis, quite a lot of encampments sprang up, prompting town in January to start clearing out a handful of encampments that had prompted residents’ complaints.
Metropolis officers and advocates have been making an attempt to know easy methods to steadiness neighborhood issues because the inhabitants of unhoused individuals has grown. Nevertheless, the options will not be that straightforward due to restricted funds, neighborhood calls for and cooperation from all events.
A number of motions addressing homelessness are on the agenda for tonight’s Metropolis Council assembly. Councilor Wayne Jenness filed a pair motions to extend policing within the Again Central neighborhood, the place many individuals with out housing gathered within the South Frequent Park after their encampments in different components of town have been cleared out. As well as, Councilor Corey Robinson filed a movement to debate discovering an answer for “vagrancy, substance abuse, loitering points” close to St. John’s Episcopal Church, additionally within the Again Central neighborhood.
Robinson mentioned St. John’s Church has skilled points with people interrupting companies and leaving human waste and needles. He mentioned this can be a “vagrancy downside versus simply being unhoused.”
“This explicit movement is about working with this group [the Church] inside the neighborhood, to supply them assurance that town is keen to step up and do what we are able to to form of curb a few of this influence that they’re being confronted with repeatedly.”
Town just lately, displacing its residents throughout town.
“They’re all form of simply closing in on South Frequent as a result of there’s nowhere else to go,” Dupont mentioned.
Dupont mentioned whereas drug use could also be prevalent on this space, it doesn’t “necessitate this enormous police presence.” Fairly, she mentioned town ought to rent extra social employees to “respectfully and safely” supply assist to individuals with out houses.
Robinson mentioned some police presence is acceptable, saying that’s crucial when unhoused individuals are committing crimes.
“We’re not on the lookout for a prison part to the place you’re handcuffing individuals for asking for assist,” Robinson mentioned.
Jay Linnehan, president of the Better Lowell Group Basis, mentioned extra reasonably priced housing is important to mitigate the excessive price of dwelling in Lowell.
Linnehan mentioned unhoused individuals don’t select to be on the road, and with extra sponsored housing they’d have the power to get again on their toes.
“The world’s getting larger and the housing inventory’s getting smaller, and it’s a basic provide and demand concern,” Linnehan mentioned. “We’d like extra provide.”
One possibility for individuals experiencing homelessness are transitional housing applications that embody a spot to remain and entry to social companies however require individuals to observe guidelines, like sustaining sobriety. Robinson mentioned some individuals aren’t keen to just accept the phrases of these applications.. He mentioned these applications are an necessary instrument in transitioning individuals into conventional houses.
“You may’t take somebody that’s mentally ailing, on substances, with well being circumstances, and put them in a home, and count on them to get again on their toes,” Robinson mentioned.
Dupont mentioned town must give attention to long run options, except for policing and sweeping encampments, and mentioned in the event you transfer these people out, they’ll simply come again.
“Now we have to deal with this entire scenario with compassion, however we additionally must take heed of the issues of our residents, our neighbors, our enterprise house owners, all people else,” Robinson mentioned.