Friday, September 13, 2013

Columbia South Carolina Will Solve Homelessness Problem by Banning It From Downtown Columbia

What an Easy, Cost Free Solution

The problem of the homeless in America has an easy solution, one that most of us just didn’t consider or think of.

With business owners sounding increasingly worried about the threat they believe the homeless pose to Columbia’s economic surge, the City Council approved a plan this month that will essentially evict them from downtown streets.

See the problem is Columbia thinks it is poised for a strong economic revival.  And nobody wants the homeless to get in the way of progress, or get in the way of anything else.

In Columbia, which has branded itself “the new Southern hot spot,” residents say the city’s time has come.

They point to plans for the 181-acre campus that once housed the state’s mental hospital and will, over the next two decades, become a mixed-use development with an annual economic impact of more than $1 billion. Speculation is rampant that a minor-league baseball team will relocate to Columbia. Less flashy projects also abound, including the conversion of a vacant office building into housing for University of South Carolina students, some of the more than 780,000 people who live in the metropolitan area.

But business owners are warning that rising homelessness in Richland County — up 43 percent in two years, according to the South Carolina Coalition for the Homeless, an increase many blame on an absence of affordable housing options and a sluggish national economy — is imperiling the area’s prospects.

So what happens if the homeless don’t go away?  Well they have to, the city council has mandated that there are no homeless in downtown Columbia.  They no longer exist.

Anne McQuary for The New York Times
Assembly Street in Columbia, S.C., which runs parallel to Main Street, where homeless people line up for a meal at the Oliver Gospel Mission. The City Council approved a plan to open the winter shelter for seven months and stop food programs in parks.

Under the new strategy, the authorities will increase enforcement of existing vagrancy laws and offer the homeless three options: accept help at a shelter, go to jail or leave Columbia.

And if they do, well Columbia will just starve them out.

The city is also planning to impose new limits on meal service for the homeless on public property. And it plans to station a police officer at a strategic location between the city’s shelter and downtown to “monitor and control foot traffic.”

Any objections?  Take them up with the South Carolina Stasi authorities.

“You’ve got to get to the root of the problem: why we’re homeless,” said Jaja Akair, a homeless man who spoke to lawmakers during a City Council session that stretched past 3 a.m. “You can’t just knock us to the side like we’re a piece of meat or a piece of paper.” 

Ah but they can Mr. Akair, they can.  This is America.

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