Citing concern that opening a shelter so close to the city’s “business and entertainment” hub would be bad for business (amongst a host of other crazy reasons), members of the Hartford Business Improvement District (BID) are trying to railroad the city into rethinking its proposal to open a no-freeze shelter. The proposed location would be in an annex building at the Center Church on Gold and Lewis Sts. The offer from the church came as the Salvation Army told the city that it wouldn’t be able to operate the seasonal shelter this year which usually is open from December 1st through the end of March.
This much needed service needs to go forward or else Hartford’s business leaders will have much bigger problems. Like one commenter noted over at the Courant,… How bad for business would it be with dead bodies frozen on the streets of Hartford because they were denied shelter due to profit concerns? Some of the other concerns raised were the “increase in pan-handling, vandalism, and public urination”, to name a few. Also at issue is that there could be some sex offenders among the homeless population (p.s. they exist in ALL communities), which seemed to be the crux of the BID’s opposition, only second to profit margins.
The members of the BID need to understand that all of these perceived threats that they cite will still exist no matter how much they want it swept under the rug. If they really want to solve these problems, maybe they should look at the root causes of poverty and homelessness. That aside, the real bottom line is that people’s lives are at stake. This should be a no-brainer. With all of the cuts to social services and other shelters cutting back or closing down, Hartford’s most forgotten and pushed aside need it most. Nevermind that with more people losing their jobs and housing these days, any one of us could be next in line at a soup kitchen or shelter’s door. As we head into the holiday season, I can’t help but think that you can’t get more Dickensian than this.