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Editorial: Homeless task force discussions may be aided by your thoughts

May 16, 2017 at 11:18 p.m.
Updated May 17, 2017 at 11:40 a.m.


Ideas.

For the past few months, nearly three dozen members of our community have been meeting to discuss and come up with ideas about ways for Longview to address the troubling issues surrounding homelessness in our city.

We appreciated what Mayor Andy Mack said last week in sharing some of the thoughts the group so far has kicked around: "These ideas spur on critical and cumulative thinking, and that's what it takes," he said. "It takes a broad stroke to paint this picture."

We agree. And the broader the stroke the better.

Among the task force's concerns is finding ways to care for those less fortunate among us without creating an environment of dependence. We are not sure that has been happening, but nonetheless are pleased the discussions are taking place. The group of individuals who are involved bring to the table a broad range of relevant experiences in working with and considering such issues.

Some of the ideas the group has considered so far seem to make sense. They include reviews of ordinances to determine what forces officials can bring to bear on the homeless population, which laws are enforceable and which might violate an individual's rights. Such review can be important, given the task force reportedly is discussing so-called "solicitation-free zones" where panhandling might be limited.

There also has been discussion of a homeless outreach team of police officers who would try to help homeless people to places and resources that could help them, of a job program to offer employment opportunities, and of increased access to transportation.

While the ideas so far presented seem fairly obvious, we are pleased to hear them and to know they are being discussed.

We are disappointed, however, that the group's meetings are taking place in private, with task force members being encouraged not to share publicly what they are talking about. That flies in the face of what we know about how government works best, which is in the light of day with room for discussion and input from all.

So while we may not be able to tell you as much as we would like about what the task force is doing each week, we can certainly help each of you share your ideas with its members. To that end, we are publishing here the list of members that was made public a few months ago. We are certain any of them would be pleased to hear what you think as they continue their work.

Task force members

  • Eric Burger, Hiway 80 Rescue Mission

  • Helen Johnson, House of Hope

  • Linda Cunningham, Newgate Mission

  • Capt. Mark Jacobs, Salvation Army

  • Alan Johnson, Jesus Burger ministry

  • Janice Bunt, Caring and Sharing

  • Johnnie Johnson, Community Outreach Mission

  • Doris Ramaly, Longview Interfaith Hospitality Network

  • Shannon Trest, Women's Center of East Texas

  • Robin Fruia, Longview Community Ministries

  • Andrea Dollahite, Made to Love Ministries

  • Jeff Borgwardt, Ministerial Alliance

  • Karen Holt, North East Texas Homeless Consortium

  • Holly Fuller, Partners in Prevention

  • Sgt. James Bettis, Longview Police Department

  • Brenda Day-Bevis, D.O.R.S.

  • Lewis Thompson, Ministerial Alliance

  • Inman White, Community Healthcore

  • Linda Oyer, East Texas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse

  • Ron Short, Christus Good Shepherd Medical Center

  • Anthony Brooks, Longview Regional Medical Center

  • Jeff Brown, Wellness Pointe

  • Tim Wiseman, Wiseman Ministries

  • Scott Lewis, Longview Transit

  • Donna Sharp, Greater Longview United Way

  • Josh Tubb, Gregg County Sheriff's Office

  • Michael Black, JBA Financial Services

  • Cary Hilliard, First Baptist Church

  • Murray Moore, former Longview mayor

  • Hank Hester, Longview Fire Department

  • Cheteva Marshall, Longview Housing Authority

  • Kevin Marshall, Gregg County Veterans Services

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