I went to the County meeting last night to hear discussion on homeless shelters in the City of Allentown. A spotlight has been on the issue in recent weeks. Partially because of record low temperatures but also because of the work of a handful of devoted activists who seem frustrated.
I won’t comment on specifics since it’s an issue I need to learn more about. I learned alot last night. One item though seems pretty clear. Between the County and the City of Allentown one body needs to take ownership of the issue. When Commissioners responded to folks in attendance one eluded to homelessness being an Allentown issue. It wasn’t a callous remark but rather a statement of what was believed to be fact. Not moments later a friend handed me the Allentown memo. Much has been written about the memo. It very clearly states that in the cities opinion homelessness is a County issue.
Clearly we have a disconnect here.
Secondly, we need to deal with this issue 365. Not just the coldest month of the year. Yes, it’s highlighted now because lives are in danger now. It was 5 degrees this morning at 5am.
While I sat and listened I wondered what it was like at one of the shelters on a night like last night. I learned this morning that apparently 3 Commissioners must have wondered the same thing. Apparently Lisa Sheller, Vic Mazzioti and Scott Ott quietly went to the shelter after the meeting. These meetings often go to 11 at night. I left early so I have no idea how late it went last night. But I heard this morning a handful of Commissioners visited a shelter late last night. An exceptionally cold night. I appreciate that. Puts a face on a problem.
Now, let’s work to find solutions. Committees can be great. But not when there is urgency with an issue. Let’s hear ideas at the next county meeting.