Thursday, October 17, 2019

Award-winning weekly looks at local homelessness

A homeless veteran gathers his things after officials evicted him from his camp. (Malheur Enterprise photo by Joe Siess)
The Malheur Enterprise, an award-winning rural Oregon weekly, took an unflinching look at the issue of homelessness in the town of Ontario with a story and a photo essay. Homelessness is an increasing problem in rural areas but it's not often discussed or addressed.

On Oct. 14, city workers forced a number of homeless people to abandon encampments along the Snake River because of a cleanup procedure near the local water plant. "The cleanup was prompted by a break-in at one of the wells that pertains to the city’s water treatment plant, causing concern that water could be contaminated," Joe Siess reports for the Enterprise.

City Manager Adam Brown said there was also concern about homemade toilets in the encampments that could leak into the river and contaminate it. He estimated that as many as 60 people live in the woods near the river, Siess reports.

City employees gave the campers several days' notice and passed out a tip sheet listing services available to those being evicted. But, Brown acknowledged, "The folks down there have lots of needs . . . And there’s not a single answer right now to address it."

UPDATE, Oct. 24: The latest Enterprise story on the topic gives the views of the homeless.

No comments: