“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
With a harsh Michigan winter heading our way, people are beginning to yearn for the comfort of a burning fireplace, to crave steaming hot chocolate, and to desire a warm, cozy bed. Though this is ideal, not everyone is afforded this, seemingly inevitable, luxury.
As the great Martin Luther King Jr. said in his quote mentioned above, we should all help one another; specifically in this situation, to enjoy a happy holiday break and reap the benefits of a comfortable winter. In hopes to do so, Occupy Ann Arbor, a new movement of volunteers aimed at helping those throughout Ann Arbor, has begun to advocate for the opening of a second warming center for the homeless; specifically, a twenty-four hour warming center on 415 W. Washington. In their standpoint, they protest that our dire economic times have forced countless people out of their homes and into the streets, leaving them with no food to eat and no place to live. With this, Occupy Ann Arbor is proposing to fund, run, and open a second warming center in downtown Ann Arbor in hopes to give additional aid to the increased amount of homeless this winter. This group claims that the warming center will be “democratically run by homed and homeless volunteers who would combine their skills, explore their creativity and support and empower each other” (Dearing). Though this is ideal, there have been numerous incidents in the past that argue this. With previous attempts of warming centers run solely by volunteers, the centers have all been ultimately shut down due to fights and providing a place for the homeless to drink and use drugs; the volunteers were seemingly unprepared to handle these sort of centers.
Along with this, it does not seem economically feasible to even consider opening a second warming center. In fact, the city currently does not even have sufficient funds to support the present warming center, let alone a second one. Also, the program is currently run by professional staff, of whom address and fix the underlying problem with the homeless and try to place them into permanent housing, where as this proposal would merely perpetuate the problem and just maintain the homeless, not help them.
With this in mind, everyone can and should sympathize with those who have no comfortable, warm place to stay for the grim winter ahead. However, instead of making the problem worse for both the homeless and the community, by providing insufficient care for the former and a hole in the Ann Arbor’s wallet for the latter, we should take the energy, funds, and support of Occupy Ann Arbor and aim it towards advancing our current warming center. By doing so we can potentially house more people, provide more, and perhaps, better food, and ultimately offer an efficient way to serve those in need throughout this upcoming winter.
Through all of this, Occupy Ann Arbor should definitely be praised for the efforts to help the needy and fight for what is right and altruistic. However, their proposal seems to be a little out of reach economically for the Ann Arbor government to fund and support. With this I question: Do you support Occupy Ann Arbor’s movement to establish a second warming center due to the increase number of homeless, or, do you believe we should instead put forth the same money, time, and energy into our current center to make it even better and more feasible for the homeless? Additionally, how do you think Martin Luther King Jr. would react to this controversy? Would he agree with the Occupy Ann Arbor movement, or would he put his faith in the Ann Arbor government?