Lewiston has a homelessness problem, no denying it. The city even created a task force to look into homelessness when the council refused to approve a proposal which seemed to address only one aspect.

This follows Lewiston celebrating the opening of a needle exchange program, giving those using illegal drugs the opportunity to do so with even less consequence.

We’ve seen twice now where we opened shelters for some of our homeless, yet we limited shelters to certain classes of homeless individuals.

All this makes me ask why. And then it came to me — low barrier shelters attract, and in some cases recruit those who’ll then be eligible for services like case management and counseling, for which the state pays. By serving a population eligible for services, those pushing the initiative may in fact be the same ones who financially benefit from the services to be provided.

Lewiston needs homeless shelters for those who have fallen on challenging times due to domestic abuse, loss of a job or other reasons that might be addressed and corrected with a hand up. What it does not need is a program that attracts those with little incentive to change and by its nature allows them to spend more of their own money on drugs, alcohol or other items while their care is paid for.

Let’s start by fixing those who truly want the help and ensure that access to services is shared among all licensed providers in the community, not just a few.

Robert Reed, Lewiston

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