The past few weeks have had a number of stories, many unflattering, about Raleigh’s treatment of groups feeding the homeless in Moore Square. It seems most of the coverage has been one-sided in favor of the groups, often stretching the truth in some cases. I am not privy to the decisions that went into the city’s controversial policy – those are made at a level much higher than mine – but I do have some thoughts about the situation.
- No one should go hungry. I think everyone agrees on this.
- Moore Square is a public park.
- A lot of homeless people hang around the park.
- Everyone is welcome to use the park during the day.
- The park is frequently full of trash.
- There have been a number of violent incidents in the park.
- Anyone with a history of violence should not be welcome in the park.
- There are better places to feed the hungry.
- A meal is only a small fraction (though important, nonetheless) of what these people need.
I think it’s inevitable that the area around Moore Square will be redeveloped. I think it’s a shame society doesn’t do more for the homeless and mentally ill. I think there is so much more that we could (and should) be doing to get these folks back on their feet. Perhaps the city (or the county) could open an office or center somewhere in downtown where the homeless could not only be fed, but could find shelter, get medical assistance (including mental health assessments), and maybe get a hand in getting their lives back on track.
I love what these loving organizations are doing, and I truly believe city staff also admires their work. I just believe that there are better places to do this important work than Moore Square.