New Castle News

Letters to the Editor

September 9, 2013

Helping the ‘homeless’ seen as judgment call

NEW CASTLE — Editor, The News:

I was angry to read that Mental Health/Developmental Services administrator Joseph Venasco and Police Chief Bobby Salem removed the “homeless” people from their land.

I believe this is an arbitrary abuse of power, used to force people to live an approved lifestyle.

Venasco wants to “reintroduce the homeless to living indoors” and wants a new program to “teach basic life and job skills.” The phrase “job skills” is only important if you want someone to have wage income.

A much larger type of income in terms of market value is subsistence activity (e.g. growing food, washing dishes), though I’d guess this is not what Venasco is referring to when he talks of “basic life skills.”

On the issue of living “indoors” versus “outdoors,” it seems Venasco envisions these “homeless” people living in industrial-built dwellings, constructed with two-by-fours, drywall, a modern heating system, indoor plumbing and electric and gas connections.

Venasco also said conditions by the river were “unsanitary” and that “something bad eventually would happen.” These assertions have no legitimate basis (ATV riders were the reason for the toilet in the creek). Rather, they are the excuses used by those in power to control where the least powerful in our society will live.

People in New Castle should defend freedoms, not just for certain people living by approved standards, but for everyone, for living in any situation they wish.

I also believe we need to question our ideas about wage labor versus subsistence income and what type of lifestyles we approve of. We need to recognize there are many non-industrious poor living in our city, and not everyone can get a job here.

Instead, we could focus more on subsistence activity, simplicity and a much more local and shared way of living.

James Newlin

Highland Avenue

New Castle

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