Monday morning, Aug. 26, an unhoused woman was killed in her sleeping bag just trying to rest. Here in our town, on our watch, a woman died because she had nowhere safe to lay her head.
Her death was gruesome and a terrible indignity; the details are too awful to recount. We do not know her name or history or how she ended up in that alley. But it doesn’t really matter. Her life mattered, had value and deserved dignity. Not a single person deserves to die this way.
The city and county have been struggling for years with homelessness. While we debate taxes and plans, people keep dying on our streets. This tragic death should be a wake up call for the area to do something now.
We need low-barrier shelters and to invest in “housing first” programs to get people off the street.
We need to stop criminalizing homelessness and giving people tickets for sleep.
While EPD keeps sweeping camps, giving tickets, arresting people and removing belongings, this death makes it clear that those criminal justice techniques are useless.
Please, move away from treating the unhoused as criminals or pariahs. Help the unhoused now: build shelters.