Readers Respond

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Shelter from the storm


/ Des Moines

Iowa faces a pressing challenge: how to meet the needs of Polk County's 10,000 homeless residents. Building a new facility for the homeless has been a work in progress for over two years. Yet the urgency of this issue catapulted forward two months ago when city workers demolished a cluster of wooden shacks along the Des Moines River, built for the homeless by advocates and by the homeless themselves. The demolition heightened public awareness of the lack of adequate shelter and services for Iowa's growing homeless population, and a proposed new shelter on Keo Way near downtown has since gained momentum.

For many years, we both have worked extensively with Iowa's homeless population, and we strongly support the new shelter. That puts us at odds with some of our friends in nearby neighborhoods (although we count even more friends in those neighborhoods who support the new shelter) . We appreciate their passion for preserving and improving our neighborhoods and have worked with them on many good causes. On this issue, however, we respectfully disagree, and we believe their fears and reservations are unfounded.

We are impressed with Central Iowa Shelter & Services (CISS) and the facility's director, Tony Timm. Tony has made every effort to work collaboratively with other organizations, neighborhood leaders and city government. CISS has served Des Moines since 1992 and has given many of our homeless neighbors not only shelter but the opportunity to return to life as a productive citizen.

It's time to take action and move forward with the proposed shelter. The new building will provide many more beds for men and women in crisis. It will create a safe, secure site for programs for guests and for the community at large. And instead of hiding the homeless, the proposed location offers a great opportunity to showcase our collective desire to help and support the neediest among us in a well-staffed, safe and attractive building.

This is a complex issue. Being homeless, often without personal resources or connections to fall back on, is overwhelming. Regardless of whether one is chronically homeless or circumstantially homeless, in the richest country in the world, no person deserves to go hungry or to be without a safe place to sleep at night. Thank you.

Keep 'English Only' law

From NORMA J. Hill / Via Internet

About your story on the push to repeal the Iowa "official language" law, keep the "English Only." All immigrants can learn to read and speak English, just as all imigrants before had to do and still keep their own language alive amongst themselves as others have done for years. No interpreters needed!