Letters to the Editor

City needs to help the homeless, not itself

Other have had their say about a letter to the Reporter by young Alex Gasperi ("Plan needed for the homeless out in the cold", Dec. 13). Let me explain how our government works.

In 2005, our mayor and City Council decided we needed new and much improved "digs" for our elected officials. New kitchen, new and private restroom, new reception area and nice glass doors. A good-looking desk for the mayor and a new work space for the council.

Not enough, said our rulers.

Millions of dollars later we get 2 1/2 floors of a new building to replace what many called "tavern row." Away with those awful taverns and those not so influential employees. The revenue they produced? Who cared? Certainly not the folks at City Hall. They still had their jobs, their power and a multi-million dollar budget to tinker with.

Enter 2008. The bottom drops out of the economy. Roads to maintain. Utilities to maintain. People losing their jobs and their homes. City buildings needing repairs and maintenance. Drop in tax revenue.

Homelessness? I could not find a single person inside City Hall who was homeless. What I did find was people seeking shelter under bridges and in doorways of a partially vacant building out by the City-owned airport.

That city budget? Looks real bad, but no sweat. Time for another new office for the mayor. While we're at it, let's get some new furniture and a big new suite for our human resources department.

When the golf course can't take care of itself, just grab a fist full of dollars from the general fund.

The second floor of City Hall has empty space, lots of it. It has a full kitchen, public restrooms, carpet on the floor. Dry. Warm. Clean. A perfect place for public officials to talk about homelessness, Alex.

Certainly Auburn has many people involved in providing services for the less fortunate. Our food bank, churches, community supper volunteers, Pregnancy Aid, to name only a few. But when our mayor and council had money to spend did they use it to fight homelessness? No, they did not. They used the money to make themselves more comfortable.

Thank you, Alex, for grabbing the attention of so many people in Auburn. Thanks to your mother who cared enough about another person to offer her help.

We will end homelessness when our elected officials stop helping themselves.

– Virginia Haugen

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