The following Letter to the Editor was submitted for publication by Valerie Baker.
Please help save the Christ Church Camp of New Beginnings and to protect the rights of the homeless and underprivileged in Amarillo.
Your Letter Here: Please help save the Christ Church Camp of New Beginnings and to protect the rights of the homeless and underprivileged in Amarillo. Organizations belonging to this coalition include the Christ Church Camp of New Beginnings, the Amarillo Brown Bag Run, Food Not Bombs Amarillo, #homelessnomore, Jack Mustard Charities, Picnic at the Park, Your Second Coat and others.
City Ordinances (Including: Article IV, Division 1, Sec. 4-10-81 through 4-10-83) have made it criminalized to be homeless located anywhere public in Amarillo.
Reality is Amarillo has a recorded homeless population of 678, which is underestimated, Adult population is closer to 1,100-1,200. Yet there are only 655 beds in shelters. Also shelters are not accessible to everyone for many reasons including the following below.
1. They have a companion animal and are not allowed in the Salvation Army with a pet. These pets are often the only companion a person has and they would rather face the conditions of the weather than abandon their pet.
2. They have a partner, a spouse, a significant other but no children. They will be separated in the Salvation Army. Often one or both of the pair have anxiety, mental health and/or medical issues. In some cases one may have seizures and the partner understands the care required. Some, have been together for years and are unable to have a restful sleep without their companion.
3. Some have social anxiety, depression or claustrophobia.
4. Some have been in these shelters and know the conditions. The moldy shower facilities. The bed bug infestation. The lack of properly trained staff. The rampant drug use. The fear of violence. Theft.
5. Some have been kicked out of these shelters in the past and are banned.
6. Some have substance use/abuse issues themselves.
7. Some have issues with authority figures or positional authority figures.
8. Some are survivors or victims of domestic violence.
9. Some are afraid of the others that stay at these shelters.
10. Some understand the corruption of the shelters system.
11. Some have everything they own in the camp and are not willing to abandon it.
12. Some have no income.
13. Some have no identification.
14. Some are not ready to ask for the help.
15. Some want to be in the elements. Who are we to question that?
16.They feel their Tent is their own home / personal space , they have privacy in their Tent unlike shelters . They can choose whether or not to leave at their own leisure unlike shelters where they can only come and go at set times.
17. They are also able to keep their belongings and not fear theft as much.
18. They have a sense of community and family.
19.The shelter times do not work for everyone.
20. Overpopulated shelters, there are not enough beds.
The city council has demanded the camp disperse on March 1. What will happen to the campers? How will you make sure they have a place? What they are going to do with those who can’t stay in shelters because of psychiatric problems, alcohol, drugs, pets or other reasons?
Please help us find a solution that helps these people in a sustainable way that works with city ordinances.