“The Time to Address Homelessness in Danbury Is Now”

With the recent an- nouncement that the last occupants of the proposed shelter at the former Super 8 hotel on Mill Plain Road have vacated the building, local officials continue to fail in their obligation to provide a coherent plan that realistically addresses the growing homelessness dilem- ma in the state’s seventh largest city.

By Al Robinson - Hatcityblog.com

By the time this op-ed is publi- shed, the City of Danbury will have a new mayor who has side- stepped opportunities to offer an opinion or a vision to address the city’s ever-growing homeless population, despite campaigning for the city’s top elected position for the last three years.

The political toxicity that residents in Danbury endured throughout the campaign season must be replaced with meaning- ful and insightful dialogue when addressing issues concerning the city’s most vulnerable residents. The “not in my backyard” con- tingent of residents who offered a healthy dose of misinforma- tion in their shameless demoni- zation of the shelter proposal on the city’s westside should not be involved in any realistic and hu- mane approach to tackling the homeless crisis in the city.

It’s been nearly two decades since the Boughton administra- tion launched its ten-year plan to address homelessness, and twen- ty years later, the city’s homeless problem not only persists but has increased to a level that should bring shame to local lawmakers whose job it is to protect the wel- fare of all residents.

The newly opened 20-bed shelter on Elm Street is merely a band aid on an ever-growing and deeply infected wound; a plan of action needs to be proposed im- mediately for the scores of un- housed residents in the city who will face colder outdoor conditions as the winter season approaches. Anything less than a proposal of a plan of action to tackle home- lessness should be considered unacceptable.

In his paper “A Theory of Human Motivation,” renowned American psychologist Abraham Maslow described shelter as one of humanity’s most basic needs for people who desire to achieve their goals in life. As a community rooted in the teachings of Christ, we all must ensure that our new- ly elected local representatives in Danbury understand and respect the fact that housing is a human right that should not be dictated by the will of members of the city who desire to keep the homeless population in the shadows.