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New Times is admirable, but people should give to existing programs 

Matthew Easterbrook

I read your article this morning (“One story at a time: The Homeless Project,” July 28) and as a certified and experienced Alcohol and Drug Counselor who has extensive experience working with the homeless, I have grave concerns about your project. I believe you are inviting the innocent and potentially naive people in the community to take on a task they are ill prepared for. As professionals, we who have worked with the homeless already know a large percentage of them are addicts, alcoholics, and have severe mental illnesses. What New Times is proposing is very admirable, but not very safe for the average resident to take on. There is a huge potential for these people to be manipulated, taken advantage of, and possibly injured.

I just want to warn New Times to treat this matter very delicately and to not assume that the stories of these people in need are even true or accurate. I would encourage the community to investigate and find out as much as humanly possible before allowing them into your home or business. They may have criminal pasts, which they could fall back into if an opportunity arose. This is especially dangerous for the elderly and those with children at home. The community has a right to be educated and properly informed of all the potential dangers here.

I have nothing against the homeless population, but I would recommend instead that people financially support or even volunteer with the existing homeless shelter and other homeless outreach programs. These agencies have staff who are properly trained, have a screening process, and have the resources to help these people.

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