They are the same people who take all of the help the self-proclaimed homeless advocates are willing to give – and they give so much. The cost in dollars can and does reach into the thousands. They are provided with food, clothing, transportation, medical care and lodging. They are given opportunities for employment and then choose to go back to their camps beside the creeks and use what little income they gain to feed their addictions.
The camps themselves are chosen with an eye to be hard to detect and are strewn with alcohol containers and the debris of that lifestyle. There are no sanitary facilities and a bath or shower is an every two or three week event. They also prey on each other, stealing whatever they can find and assaulting one another on a regular basis.
No tax dollars are spent for the help that is provided. It all comes from community donations, and the most valuable commodity is the volunteer’s time. The tax dollars spent in this area are spent in relation to the costs incurred from incarceration, jails, courts and medical care.
There is a need for a more coordinated and comprehensive program that addresses this issue. Moab as a community needs to have the facilities, the counseling and counselors, job training, housing assistance and the concern and care of the community to help the majority of these people fit back into society.
In one sense, hope is the absence of despair. By showing we value them as people, with no harsh judgments or condemnations, we may give them the hope to put forth the effort to rebuild their lives.
I know both sides. I’ve been there. Those few who, day after day, did not give up helped me enter a rehabilitation program that gave me back my life, my spirituality and my sense of self-worth.