We Need To Help Homeless, But Homeless Need To Do Their Part, Too

Monday’s protest by some of the region’s homeless showed, without a doubt, that two things can be true at the same time.

We agree with the homeless – more needs to be done. Transitional housing and more affordable housing is needed to help solve the reasons the homeless find themselves on the streets. Getting those battling addiction or mental health issues into treatment is seemingly an important part of dealing with homelessness.

At the same time we can’t argue with Carmelo Hernandez, Chautauqua County director of community mental hygiene services, who said much of the help being asked for by the homeless on Monday is already available.

“We have programs to help with almost all of these situations,” explained Hernandez. “However, some of the onus is on those seeking help, they must do their part. They must fill out an application and go through the process to access services and support. We have programs to help with rent, food, utilities and mental health options. … you name it, but they need to follow the process.”

New York makes a lot of programs available – but those programs come with strings. The UCAN City Mission provides help for homeless men – but that help comes with strings. Transitional housing, if and when it comes online, is going to come with strings attached. Some homeless The Post-Journal has spoken with don’t want help. They’re content to live on their own outdoors. Those protesting Monday want help – it’s incumbent on them to be part of the solution.

Society often sees things in stark, black and white terms. In our view two things can be true at the same time. We’ve been steadfast that local and state government officials need to do more to help the homeless. But the flip side of that coin is no less important. The homeless need to help themselves by availing themselves of the resources that are available.

Until they do, we don’t know the shortcomings in the social services network that need to be fixed.


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