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Sheltering the homeless is in everyone’s best interest

I take issue with the current policies of Arizona government in regards to housing for the homeless and low-income residents of this state. Specifically, I wanted to discuss the “consolidated plan” that is being developed by the Arizona Department of Housing.

This is a federally funded program that aims to provide adequate housing and community projects to the less fortunate. While it has certainly had some successes, it remains incapable of providing a solution to the fundamental problems it claims to be attempting to address.

The plan itself lists four hindrances to its effectiveness: inadequate funding, absence of service-provider agencies, lack of capacity in existing agencies and absence of consensus by local jurisdictions regarding which needs are underserved.

It is my opinion that the fourth hindrance generally causes the other three. To address this hindrance, you will have to deal with those in power, which is the fundamental shortcoming of the policy. There are two routes one can take: Raise awareness so that power in numbers defeats the monetary power of the few elites, or convince those in power that the resolution of this issue is actually in their best interest.

I feel the best route is the second one. It is not a far-fetched idea when you consider the costs of not housing the homeless — emergency medical care, incarceration, to say nothing of the wasted human potential that desperately wants to be contributing to society. For a person to be able to contribute, they need their most basic needs met first, and housing is one of those needs. It costs us all more money in the long run to not provide this kind of aid.

My hope is that you will join me in this inquiry, to put pressure on our elected officials to answer the question of why they are not using our tax dollars more efficiently, especially when the upshot is human dignity for a greater number of our fellow citizens.

— Justin Evans, Phoenix

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