Readers respond on homelessness

Editor's note: We received the following comments in response to our invitation published with our editorial Thursday on stray shopping carts and the city's downtown exclusion zone.

I have read the Oct. 27 front-page article about the problem with abandoned grocery carts. I now live in Central Point, but worked and lived in Medford for 30 years and have seen the continuing problem. I just finished reading the editorial in Thursday’s paper and would like to express my thoughts.

It occurs to me that this could be a project for groups: Eagle Scouts, high schools, contests between schools, etc. Maybe prizes donated by grocers and businesses? I really want to emphasize the need to have this problem solved without involving taxpayer dollars. To enter this into the city budget requires time by councilors that could be put to more urgent items. To expect merchants to be fined is an absolutely unreasonable suggestion.

— Nancy R. Fox, Central Point

Medford’s “homeless problem” is a constant concern and appears in the news almost every day. Despite there being a number of resources for such persons, the issues seem to remain. A few observations can be made.

Americans are historically inclined to treat the unfortunate with kindness but also firmness. However, in Medford’s present case, we have turned the problem over to the authorities and charities and, in many ways, forbidden the private citizen from getting involved.

However, just as they do when spending other peoples’ money, government folks are inclined to penalize the public first and make the sort of baffling decisions which accommodate the lawbreakers — kicking the can down the road and not disrupting often-nasty behaviors by our uninvited guests. I’ve heard that, back in the day, Medford businessmen would greet hobos with ax handles, politely inviting them to keep moving. I’m afraid that, in today’s topsy-turvy world, such a civic-minded citizen would quickly run afoul of “the law.”

— Hubert Smith, Jacksonville

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