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In Response: Plight of Duluth's homeless getting sadder, sorrier

The plight of the homeless in Duluth is a sad and sorry state of affairs on different fronts, for sure, as the Dec. 5 letter, "Homeless are just like you and me," reminded us.

While the ideas and thought processes behind a proposal coming before the Duluth City Council to enact a Homeless Person's Bill of Rights are upright and just and novel, the very fact a need apparently exists for such a list of city rules is what makes it so sad.

Take a hard look at the proposed 11-point Homeless Person's Bill of Rights as it was published in the News Tribune on Dec. 5, 2016, with an article headlined, "Duluth rally highlights effort for Homeless Bill of Rights." The reality is that citizens already have the rights listed in the proposed bill. What actually is being considered by the proposal is a mandating of a societal change in attitude toward a group of individuals. I find it particularly sad that laws have to be created in an effort to coerce society to treat others with compassion and decency. Whatever happened to the ethic of reciprocity, a maxim of altruism?

My hat is off to Loaves and Fishes and CHUM for doing all they can with the resources available to them.

I acknowledge that the next opinion I freely will express here is highly controversial and subject to ridicule, but I will stand my ground, and I will not be swayed.

What makes the current homeless situation in Duluth and elsewhere an even sorrier state of affairs is that churches across Minnesota are electing to create long-term living accommodations and sanctuaries for illegal immigrants facing deportation. These churches plan to provide food, warmth, shelter, and services — all while the homeless are reduced to tarps and tents and sleeping bags.

There is an unjust imbalance here that does not live up to what I understand to be Christian ethics.

Martin Karpa

Martin Karpa of Sarona, Wis., is retired from the U.S. Army.

What is being proposed

A proposed Homeless Person's Bill of Rights for Duluth, as of December 2016, was seeking to assure:

  • The right to use and move freely in public spaces, without discrimination or arbitrary time limits
  • The right to rest in public spaces and protect oneself from elements in a non-obstructive manner
  • The right to eat, share, or accept food in public spaces
  • The right to occupy a legally parked motor vehicle
  • The right to a reasonable expectation of privacy in public spaces
  • The right to equal treatment by city staff and departments
  • The right to protection from disclosure of personal information without consent
  • The right to protection from discrimination in housing and employment
  • The right to 24-hour access to basic hygiene facilities
  • The right to choose whether to utilize emergency shelter
  • The right to speak with an advocate or street outreach worker when questioned by police