Let's take back the Tigard Library. It simply isn't safe.
On any given day, there are three to eight men who live in the library during operating hours. They come in first thing in the morning and stay until close. It is the job of the library staff to manage these people. Tigard Mayor (John Cook) and the head librarian have made decisions to allow these folks to live at the library even though there is a Tigard City Code that specifically prohibits occupation of city property.
The mayor has told me that they are not living in the library, but I disagree. He tells me that it is a "refuge" issue. I felt he tried to shame me into changing my mind about the issue. "Provide space to everyone, everyday no matter what." I agree with that when someone comes to the library to use it for the intended purpose. The mayor has told me the city is working to find shelter space for each of them. Why would they want to go to a shelter? A shelter might require a search for placement. Or a sobriety commitment or pledge. There are no searches at the library. There is not a required pledge at the library.
I've come to understand that I hold a commonly held belief that may not be true that the homeless population is not local; rather, they are people moving from city to city to find favorable circumstances. I have also learned there is a loud, boisterous band of "travelers" that do travel from city to city looking for favorable circumstances — the opportunity to take advantage. Now I understand that most homeless people end up in the town where they held their last job or had housing.
Under these circumstances, the library is not safe for children or the library staff. Where are the families of these people? Has the family turned them out? Why am I being asked as a tax-paying resident to support this behavior. After I read the mayor and the librarian's emails to me, I felt that the homeless people ranked higher than those of us paying their way. And if it so safe and welcome at the library, why doesn't the mayor allow them at the City of Tigard offices, in his office, or at public schools. These are public places paid for with my tax money.
Let's not turn Tigard into Portland by allowing this behavior to continue. There are no homeless people living in the library at Lake Oswego. LO has taken a different approach.
I've read recently that Redmond is now actively removing homeless from public and private property, with force if needed.
I read a letter to the editor of The Oregonian that stated: "The city cannot shoulder the responsibility of care for thousands of homeless people who, for the most part, do not want to be helped and who have traveled here from other states to misuse and abuse this city's kindness. Enough is enough."
The homeless people are not using the facility for its intended purpose. They are not at the library to read, research or study, or to better themselves. Just a nice, new soft couch to sleep on during the day or a fireplace to prop wet feet up to warm while napping so they are fully rested and ready to go out to the streets at night. And do whatever is done during the night.
Libraries are in trouble. Tax bases are in trouble. The middle class is taxed out.
This solution to a homeless problem is not sustainable.