Ways to address transient problem
       The homeless/transient has been a problem for a long time. The only solution thus far has been to give money, a place to sleep, and food to a problem that has more to do with mental illness and less to do with being “down and out” than most of us believe. A lot of drug addicts and/or alcoholics are often also suffering from other mental and physical illnesses.
       Many people do not believe that alcoholism and/or drug addiction are mental illnesses. If alcoholism and drug addiction are mental illnesses, can't addicts just take some medication and get therapy to get well? Well, yes and no…..Part of the illness is the belief that “you don't need help”. It is clear that every person has a choice, including the alcoholic/drug addict, before taking the first drink or drug. My understanding of alcoholism comes from years of 12-step group work/ therapy to help myself heal and break the cycle of these mental illnesses in my family. As long as an addict is choosing to stay in the addiction cycle there is no impetus to change and no interest in other human beings around him.
       Kindly say no when asked to hand over your money, food, etc. Ask the person if you can call AA (Alcoholics Anonymous, 573-5020 - free) and/or NA (Narcotics Anonymous, 637-1580 - free) for them. Give money, food, drink, and shelter to those who are truly in need and are willing to work hard to help themselves. As Bob Cote of Step 13 (www.step13.org) says, “Give a Hand up, not a Hand out.”
       Finally, beauty and cleanliness are contagious and will help discourage indigent camps. Adopt a Road, Keep Colorado Springs Beautiful and other organizations can come together and help the police by keeping these areas clean. These are real solutions; let's get it done!

Mary Baker