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Daily Journal
November 14, 2022
#87-318 KDJ

Moratorium on homeless shelters is an ultimate

By Ron Jackson

Have we sunken so low that we would ever consider legislatively putting a limit on caring? Specifically, has the City of Kankakee (once declared the worst place to live in North America) reached a snob status that its elected body is willing to put a moratorium on serving the “least of these?”

Granted, that worst place distinction was given to our entire county, but it was the City of Kankakee that received the national attention and gift of two gazebos. However, if you do an internet search for worst cities to live in Illinois, Kankakee always makes the cut. I can laugh at the unscientific, biased mockery as one of the worst cities to live in the state. But we shouldn’t contribute any fodder to be on the most uncaring list.

While it may be a Christian tenet to serve and care for the poor and marginalized, it is not a just religious thing to care for others. It a human decency thing. There should not be a debate when it comes to genuinely caring. Caring has to go beyond annual feel-good toy collections for children, coat, hat, glove drives, holiday meal distribution and limited shelter for the homeless.

For the past few years, we have witnessed advocates for the homeless fight city government for the opportunity to extend common decency and dignity and limited shelter to those most in need. Not only does that fight continue, the threat of a moratorium on helping the homeless in Kankakee is a real possibility. Yes, the city wants to put its foot down on how many homeless shelters may exist within the city. And it wants to dictate what other communities should do.

Of all the adverse issues the city faces, a restriction on serving the destitute should not be a priority. The City of Kankakee needs a moratorium on gun violence and drug crimes. Are the homeless committing the daily gunfire? Are the homeless the drug lords of the city? Or are the homeless merely unwelcomed unsightly annoyances? Deal with the issues that are preventing the city from being an attractive destination for people who aren’t homeless.

Real public safety concerns are what we elected representatives to deal with. We didn’t elect uncaring morality police. We didn’t elect anyone to tell other municipalities what to do. Kankakee is our lane. We need to stay in it.

For any elected official to blatantly champion himself to be the “bad guy” who will willingly stand at the city’s entrance and declare, “No more homeless,” puts himself on par with those who blocked public school and university doorways to those considered undeserving of human rights. We don’t need anymore bad guys. The first moratorium should be on bad guys.

What is a reasonable number of homeless shelter permits in the city? To be fair and equitable, I think the number should equal the number of liquor retail permits. The city can be a fiscally responsible steward and compassionate government. Instead of doing away with the promised city vehicle sticker, the revenue could be transferred into a real CARES Act Fund to assist those who are willing to do the work to help those most in need.

The voting citizens of Kankakee gifted the city the right to retain its home rule status that allows the city government to enact sound, immediate solutions to its own problems. The homeless are an easy political prey, comparable to the weakest wildebeest trying to cross a body of alligator filled water. By law and citizen approval, the city can impose a moratorium on homeless shelters. It would be an ultimate betrayal if the city did that.

Ron Jackson can be contacted through the Daily Journal at editors@daily-journal.com.

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Ron Jackson
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