MY VOICE: No need to hasten eviction of shelter

May 07, 2014 09:13 am

I bet you’d agree with me: politics, especially at the county commission level, is filled with do’s and don’t’s.

We’re lucky to see some very good things have been done about getting funding for a new court facility. Left to the hard work of a local judge, you do see progress for getting state funds in a tough economy. But common justice also says you don’t, as a county commission, just disregard an existing program — such as the Shelter From the Storm — when it’s the only shelter giving desperately needed services, usually to incredibly devastated lives.

In Union County, you do see a way to impact community and judicial services, by improving the working conditions of dozens of excellent professionals. You plan on a safer, cleaner, modern court. These court workers are people you know. These are people who do work long hours in a tough physical environment.

But, I bet you don’t recommend that county commissioners jeopardize a host of grants and services by voting to interrupt the continuity of shelter services. You do learn that the shelter helps pay for other county services. So you don’t rashly promise to spend money on one program, when it may cost you more in both the short and long run — certainly more in human terms, or even the county’s financial bottom line. You do take the time to work it out. You do get more public input.

You do remember the promises made by your local government: promises made by elected officials, to that same shelter, and more important, to battered people of all ages and sex.

Fortunately, there are also other things you want to do, when it comes to improving programs and services. My own research indicates there’s no reason to hasten the eviction of this vital social service program. No reason, unless you don’t care to learn about what happens when that program gets shunted aside, in just a few months. Time to choose — a painful amount of time, especially for someone who may have to decide between the literal risks of being battered, humiliated daily in front of their children, or even killed. No shelter, no choice. You know it’s something you do fight to prevent. It’s the right thing to do. And I bet you do that, too. 

Jack Howard of La Grande is a freelance writer and start-up consultant. He has also worked as a teacher, lawyer and a children’s court judge.