Guest Opinion: Ashland feeds them, we deal with them
Please listen up, Ashland! I live in the county part of Ashland just outside of the Ashland city limits. I would like to ask for your help in solving a problem.
The problem is that the homeless population is growing (“… and will only get worse …” straight from the Sheriff’s Department), but they aren’t allowed to camp within the city limits. So, while soup kitchens are set up to feed the hungry and homeless, and many give them money while they panhandle, the homeless then, when curfew is active, must leave. And guess where they go.
Straight to fields and bushes and the Greenway outside of Ashland where the rest of us live. Yep, Ashland feeds them, then the transients come and set up encampments in our area near our neighborhoods and mobile home parks. These encampments are not full of homeless, they are full of people hoping to live under the radar so they can do what they want.
We walk for exercise and are accosted and called names when we don’t give them money. They walk through our mobile home park and when you tell them it is private property they just sneer and continue to enter, sometimes with their dogs. I have been attacked twice by their dogs, who also run through our park day and night unleashed.
The other night I caught a transient attempting to enter our park when it was dark, and when I caught him he lied that he was lost as he continued to walk up to me on my space, in the dark, until I told him to stop where he was. My park is where the murder in October 2013 took place.
Before you judge me, I will tell you that I helped managed a soup kitchen under Peace House in Ashland. I wanted to help.
Boy, was I naive! I only lasted a year because my heart was sick and disgusted at the way 80 percent of the people who came there acted toward the church that was good enough to donate their kitchen space and we volunteers: dogs’ feces left on the lawn (even after we warned them), fights broke out, hatred toward those who have homes and we taxpayers (though they use the public bathrooms to wash up), using the hospital but never donating time to pay for the services rendered, and when we asked for volunteers to help with the dishes they all disappeared. I could go on and on! The other 20 percent were truly homeless or on fixed incomes and needed the food. I tried to feel compassionate, but my eyes have been opened so I am jaded now.
I have taken photos of several abandoned encampments near our park in the huge field off of Valley View and it will make your skin crawl (while I was doing so two transients yelled at me). Then those transients go straight to another place with bushes to hide them and start another “trash pile” only to also abandon it later. I think everyone is aware of the constant problem in downtown Ashland with the shops and the transients.
So, please don’t feed the pseudo-homeless, then send them out of town where you don’t have to deal with them. Instead, invite them to your home if you are going to feed them and take responsibility for not only attracting these transients (the word has spread that Ashland is a great place to come for the transient lifestyle) but also let them sleep in your backyard or field, and you clean up the mess, you lock up everything in a shed so it doesn’t get stolen. Because frankly, we are tired of you “feeding the bears,” so to speak, then kicking them down the road for us to have to deal with.
Candace Sinclair lives near Ashland.