eviction does not solve the problem | News, Sports, Jobs

“It has never been a solution to homelessness. “

Those words, spoken by Kate Marshall, Wheeling resident and advocate for the homeless, have sadly never been truer. Evicting people – homeless or not – from their place of residence does not solve the problem of their homeless situation. It does not force them to eventually reassess why they are living on the streets or to seek a different path in their life.

It just moves them elsewhere.

On Wednesday, the last homeless people who lived under an 18th Street viaduct in Wheeling left. The Wheeling Police Department facilitated the closure of the camp after the West Virginia Department of Transportation asked the city to enforce “no entry” signs at the site.

It’s now up to people like Marshall and Wheeling’s Homeless Liaison Melissa Adams to help many of these people put the pieces back together.

“They mourn the loss of their neighborhood and their home. … I think it’s the same as the people of Kentucky are feeling right now, ”Marshall said.

The dissolution of the encampment was essentially a test by fire for Adams. On the job for a few months now, Adams has been working to help facilitate mental health care for some camp residents, and also worked with Youth Services Systems earlier this month to have the Winter Freeze Shelter open early so that people have somewhere warm to sleep.

As we noted earlier, helping the homeless is a complex issue. In this case, however, those who lived at the 18th Street site had, in some cases, been there for more than a year.

This allowed them to experience a semblance of community, with services such as Catholic charities and the Greater Wheeling Soup Kitchen nearby. The state has simply done a bad job of fixing this problem.

Ultimately, this truth remains: those displaced from the encampment will find another underpass or other safe place to go until they are told again to continue. Evicting them from the 18th Street site does not resolve that.

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