The following Letter to the Editor was written by Julie Hunt
Amarillo residents and advocates took to the sidewalks for a second time Sunday. Following a weekly Ministry event at Elwood park, many of our non profits, ministries, and individual advocates who work day in and day out with the homeless community gathered in support of "tent city", better known to us as Christ Church Camp of New Beginnings. The reasons each one of us showed up are as varied as the walks of life we march from. We all have one thing in common, a love for our "invisible" neighbors.
Christ Church Camp is a place of New Beginnings for its residents. In a culture which considers them more of a nuisance than a neighbor, their home camp has provided them a place to feel valued and useful in a community of their peers. A place where they feel safe and protected, loved and believed in. This is not just a place to pitch a tent, it is a neighborhood much like yours and mine. It deserves a place in this community, and its residents deserve a voice in the conversation about what happens to it.
Our city has resources. That is not to be disputed. Unfortunately, there are gaps in the resources available. Christ Church Camp is helping to fill those gaps by meeting a need otherwise unmet by current resources. It is not the be-all end-all of homelessness in Amarillo, but it is a step in a direction our city has avoided taking for far too long. I wholeheartedly believe this camp and its residents can bring about a New Beginning for our city.
It's time to step out of the archaic ages Amarillo and leave behind the antiquated ordinances you have the power not to enforce. With a little bit of love and compassion, time and compromise, we can move forward and toward a sustainable solution for our not so invisible neighbors. It can happen. It has to happen. Being as 7 out of 10 Americans are one paycheck away from being homeless themselves, I think we can safely say the "issue" of homelessness is not going away.
Our city is aspiring to be bigger and better with revitalizations (much needed in many areas), a ballpark (controversial among citizens), and increased tourism. With those "improvements" and the growth that comes with them, our already substantial homeless population will continue to grow as well and further inundate the shelters and resources available to those who find themselves homeless in Amarillo. This is an issue that every citizen, tax payer, and business owner in Amarillo should be concerned about.
I couldn't be more proud of the way our community has showed up recently for our neighbors. I want to once again be able to say I'm proud to be from Amarillo. I want a city leadership that reflects the values, actions, and heart of the citizens it is tasked with representing. All of those citizens, regardless of our current or impending housing status. Isn't that what we all want?