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There were a lot of downtown Corvallis property owners, business owners and homeowners at Monday’s workshop on homelessness. They have a vested interest in addressing homelessness. And it’s not just about making money. They, like many others, care about downtown’s safety and aesthetics. They’re interested in the well-being of the those who are financially insecure or poor or addicted to drugs or struggling with health concerns, and loitering outside of their business. I hope.

What’s unsurprising is that those who show up for the conversation help frame the conversation. The small group I was a part of was well aware that the topics we discussed were framed around the symptoms of homelessness: restrooms and meth and alcohol. It was a good conversation and I was pleased to be a part of it. Our community should continue allocating resources and energy to developing and prioritizing innovative solutions that mitigate problems with mental health, addiction, unaffordable housing, and others directly tied to homelessness.

It’s no coincidence that these problems also stem from the realities of an economic system that inspires growing divides between the haves and the have-nots, and a caste of owners, consumers and exiles (the homeless, the addicts, the poor).

Providing more convenient restrooms and helping addicts get the help they need, unfortunately misses the mark just as much as framing the focus of homelessness almost exclusively around its impact on Corvallis, and more specifically, our downtown, alone. But I suppose that’s the most we can do.

Jonathan Stoll

Corvallis (May 13)

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