My Car IS My Castle
by Andy Wade —
One community in California is currently wrestling with this issue:
Compassion was the watchword of a free-wheeling community forum Thursday night to discuss the prickly problem of Palo Altans living in their cars. Organized at the behest of the city council to pinpoint alternatives to a proposed ban on vehicle habitation, the two-hour discussion at University Church drew more than 50 people, from concerned homeowners to several people who rely on their cars for shelter.
“I think we need to use our compassion and intelligence to handle this,” said resident Dana St. George. “I think a town as intelligent as Palo Alto can come up with a solution.”
I’m thinking that we in the Gorge are also able to come up with intelligent and compassionate solutions for those living outside. Those who volunteered at our shelter last year were able to meet face-to-face with some of the homeless in our community. We were able to learn first-hand of the difficulties of living outside in our community and realize that the majority of folks on the street are not dangerous criminals to be feared, but regular folk in a bad situation.
We all need help from time to time. A healthy community is not one that is only healthy on the surface, but one that recognizes the needs, concerns, and possibilities of every individual and integrates that diversity into our relationships, laws, and casual interactions. We may not be able to all agree that housing is a right, but perhaps we can agree that transitional housing and affordable housing are necessary elements to a healthy, vibrant community. In the mean time, we need to work toward compassionate responses to residents of the Gorge merely trying to survive.
The views expressed in this post are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of all partners of the Hood River Warming Shelter Coalition.