Charleston City Council took up a resolution during its Sept. 28 meeting to end homelessness in the city.
Proposed by Councilman William Dudley Gregorie, such resolutions raise questions: While they may make people feel good, do they do any good? Is it like resolutions to abolish crime or punish sex offenders? It makes no difference to the perpetrators.
Of course, it is different with the homeless – most would prefer to not be.
Gregorie introduced the resolution, which can be seen here, and suggested that the city should devise a 10-year plan to address the problem. He said decade-long plans adopted by other cities have been successful.
For one thing, they have reduced the cost burden on the providers of shelter for the homeless. Mayor Joe Riley followed and endorsed the resolution, but noted that the Crisis Ministries and the Mayors’ Council for the Homeless provided shelters in Charleston and had long-range plans.
Discussion thereafter was divided and in the case of members who were opposed, restrained.
Council members Dean C. Riegel, Aubry Alexander, Gary White Jr. and Kathleen Wilson questioned the funding of such a plan and the definition of its goals. There was also the question of duplication of efforts made by the state and federal agencies.
Alexander also warned of making Charleston a destination point for the homeless, as has happened in San Francisco with its generous provisions.
Councilman Michael S. Seekings suggested that City Council was getting ahead of itself in committing to a resolution. He wanted numbers and financial figures to make an assessment.
The final vote according to the Clerk of Council was 7 to 5 for the resolution, although there was some question as to whether the actual vote was 6 to 5 with Councilman Timothy S. Mallard abstaining.
Marc Knapp is a contractor specializing in heavy underground utilities and the owner of Charleston Site Utilities.