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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Boise wants to punish homeless people for sleeping. That’s un-American

Boise
A view of downtown Boise, Idaho, on Oct. 4.
(Otto Kitsinger)

To the editor: Boise, Idaho, has between 1,000 and 2,000 unsheltered people and only 372 shelter beds, 146 overflow mats and 12 cribs available for homeless people. Under the most conservative estimate, that is a shortage of 470 beds. (“This city in Idaho is why L.A. can’t legally clear its streets of homeless encampments,” Oct. 15)

In more human terms, that represents at least 470 people who are unable to sleep indoors without some form of public assistance.

The U.S. Constitution demands that we punish people for what they do, rather than who they are. Human beings must sleep somewhere. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recognized this when it merely prevented the city of Boise from enforcing its anti-camping provisions against people who are merely doing what people need to do: sleep.

Boise cannot punish people for simply being human. Rather than spending public money appealing the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, perhaps Boise should try something more productive, like building public housing. It may even end up helping those it purports to be protecting.

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Charles Kohorst, Glendora


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