I am writing in support of plans to build a new homeless shelter on the grounds of the Barron Center on Brighton Avenue, located in the Nason’s Corner neighborhood of Portland.

Yes, I am a resident of this neighborhood and former employee of one of the neighborhood schools. Recently, and out of necessity, this area was home to a tent city built by the homeless folks themselves. I don’t remember any particular impact on my health or safety, or the safety of the children at either of the nearby schools at that time. In fact, the tent city was also home to families with children.

I regularly see homeless folks (or people I presume to be homeless), asking for change at intersections in this neighborhood, and I am not hurt or offended by their respectful requests in any way. In fact, the thought of people who are homeless, whether it is a chronic or temporary state, having a safe, clean place to stay with access to food, medical help and other important human resources makes me feel safer and more positive about my community and its ability to respond to a clear and present need.

I am hoping that my neighbors who are concerned about the new shelter can find it in their hearts to be welcoming to folks who are temporarily down on their luck. I am always aware that homelessness is never far away for any of us. Being homeless does not mean being less human.

Let our public outcry be, instead, for affordable housing. Let our voices, rather, be directed toward proper services for the homeless, the mentally ill or those suffering from addiction. We are all citizens of Portland.

Tiki Fuhro