"NIMBY Crowd Attack Homeless Community Again"
"Before you ignore another homeless person on the street, just remember that that could be someone's father or someone's mother and they have a story." — Syesha Mercado
The "not in my backyard (NIMBY)” crowd strikes again!
At least we now know that it was never about converting the Super 8 Hotel on Mill Plain Road into a homeless shelter. It's about using misinformation and fear tactics to discriminate against the least-fortunate members of our population.
Recently, the lawyers for the City of Danbury and the non-profit homelessness agency Pacific House reached a proposed agreement to settle a lawsuit against Zoning Commission's denial to convert the former Super 8 Hotel into a transitional homeless shelter.
Pacific House's original plan for the Super 8 Hotel would have done a lot of good in terms of addressing homelessness and the affordable housing dilemma in Danbury that city leaders failed to address adequately. Unfortunately, through the use of misleading information, unsubstantiated allegations, and the mischaracterization of disadvantaged residents, neighbors persuaded the Zoning Commission to strike down the sensible proposal to address homelessness that had the support of the mayor, as well as advocacy groups.
The proposed settlement agreement was a far cry from the original proposal and was a good compromise that would address the city's homeless population in time for this winter season. Despite the agreement having the support of the mayor and all parties in the suit, once again, the "not in my backyard" crowd came out again to target the least fortunate with the same tone white people used to keep minorities out of their neighborhoods.
It was wrong when scare tactics were used to deny people of color access to communities, and it's wrong today for people to use those same tropes to block the homeless population from accessing essential needs simply because those services are close to someone's driveway.
In response to the Zoning Commission's rejection of the settlement, Mayor Esposito stated, "We are a caring and kind community that embraces people of all walks of life and will always strive to help those that are less fortunate or that are struggling." Somehow, I don't think members of the Zoning Commission or Danbury's most selfish residents received the mayor's message.