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EDITORIAL: Code Blue shelter needs to be put on fast track

11/22/2014
 EDITORIAL: Code Blue shelter needs to be put on fast track

More than 100 people turned out at Charles R. Wood Theater last Sunday to watch the documentary “Storied Streets” and discuss homelessness with a featured six-person panel that deals with the issue daily.

Obviously, it was not your usual fun night out.

What was also obvious is that we have a problem, and there are many in the community that know it.

For example:

There has never been a greater demand for food pantries all across the region. There is a continued demand that seems to escalate weekly.

Queensbury Superintendent Douglas Huntley made a presentation at the United Way luncheon earlier this year that his school district had identified more than 80 homeless schoolchildren. It was the most school officials had ever seen.

And last winter, community groups mobilized to open up a Code Blue homeless shelter in Glens Falls.

Yes, we have homeless people in Glens Falls. It was a startling and hard to believe admission by our community.

When the weather dipped last week, there was a community outcry, asking why the Code Blue shelter was not open again. Finger pointing was the sport of the day, but that will not help anyone.

We are still being reactive instead of proactive about the problem. That needs to change.

The panel discussion identified many of the problems that local groups and organizations are having in dealing with new challenges. Let’s add another — acceptance.

Our community is not unique in having to deal with this problem. The recent finger-pointing over who was to blame for not opening the shelter by the onset of cold weather is a perfect example. The first step is, to figure out who will take responsibility for the problem and if they have the resources to get the job done.

The problem is certainly not going away.

It’s cold already, so we have the immediacy of finding people a place to stay now, while also designing long-term solutions to get people on the road to self-sufficiency.

What we need now is leadership.

We don’t believe any one organization is positioned to take on the issue alone. Several years ago, when unemployment skyrocketed and the economy lapsed into a recession, community nonprofits and government agencies came together in a community forum to not only talk about the problem, but outline an action plan on how to deal with it long term.

It worked.

We need to do that again.

We believe this is a problem that will only be solved with the help of many organizations pooling their resources. We have to determine the extent of the problem, and then craft a solution to match the need.

There is no time to waste. It is cold out there.

Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star’s editorial board, which consists of Publisher Terry Coomes, Controller/Operations Director Brian Corcoran, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representative Susan Stone. 

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