In late September, ground was broken in Davenport for the construction of a new shelter for homeless people. The shelter, an effort by the John Lewis Coffee House, will provide lodging for 78 additional homeless men and women. According to local sources, there are more than 600 chronically homeless people living in the Quad Cities - that is, people who have no residence and no means to pay for lodging.

Upon the news of the groundbreaking, local physician Michael Giudici decried the facility as damaging to the best interest of the community. Giudici stated that providing new facilities for the homeless would hurt the community because it would attract homeless from other areas to Davenport to apparently bask in the luxuries of the new shelter.

Giudici is right on the money.

The homeless do not support the community; they do not gamble in the casinos, attend events at the Adler, drink cappuccino or martinis in The District, or buy tickets to Festival of Trees. Beyond this is the obvious: The homeless are quite often unsightly, driving older, rusting cars, if any at all, and wearing unfashionable clothing. In short, they damage a "beautiful community."

The solution? Create a two-phased program to move the homeless to a community that is less on-the-ball, with less development and fewer trees on the streets. The second phase would be a program to keep them out, such as a "Zero Tolerance for the Homeless" strategy.

Where to move them? Clinton, Iowa. Clinton is known to be down on its luck, is less scenic, and is definitely less beautiful. The homeless would feel more at home there. State grant money might be available to offset the re-location costs and provide subsidies to the Clinton community for taking on Davenport`s "problem" so nobly.

The enforcement phase would involve a joint effort between law enforcement and the citizens. A hotline could be established similar to Crime Stoppers, with reward money for those calling in tips that result in the removal of homeless found hiding in our community. This effort would require the involvement of community citizens; if you see a young mother with her small children sleeping in her car because her boyfriend beats her and she has no money and nowhere to go, or a young person whose mental handicap prevents him from holding a job, or an older man whose struggles with life have worn him down to a point of dysfunction, for God`s sake turn them in!

If a strong effort is made, the re-location phase might be accomplished by Christmas. After all, there is nothing more depressing than to be around people during the holidays who don`t have anything.

Please voice your support to Dr.Giudici and his committee. Let`s really clean up Davenport!

Tom Lundy

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