It’s been more than 2 1/2 years since the Roseburg City Council settled on a set of goals it wanted to pursue, and on Tuesday, the council met to hammer out its priorities for the next two years.

But if that meeting was any indication, it may be a while before the council can agree on those goals, and longer yet before any are actually achieved.

Four goals that were adopted by the council in 2017 were reworded and carried over as goals for the next two years. They are:

  • Develop and implement policies to enhance housing opportunities.
  • Implement transportation funding policies to meet identified community needs.
  • Enhance community livability and public safety.
  • Take a proactive role in economic development and community revitalization.

Two new goals were added to the list:

  • Update and implement the city’s emergency preparedness plan.
  • Explore strategies to lessen the impact of homelessness on the community.

The council then spent the remainder of the hour-and-a-half meeting discussing, sometimes heatedly, that final goal. Much of that back-and-forth centered on the nuances of homelessness, including what to actually call it and whether a goal should be to “lessen” its impact on the community or “address” it.

Most of the council agreed that homelessness was the most urgent problem facing the city.

“I think it’s critical that one of our goals focus on the homeless,” Councilor Brian Prawitz said. “I want to be proactive.”

Councilor Tom Ryan said homelessness is the issue he hears about most often from constituents.

“We aren’t going to be able to solve it because no one else has, but how can we lessen the impact in Roseburg?” he said.

There was some discussion on what to call homelessness, with Roseburg Police Department Chief Gary Klopfenstein suggesting the more appropriate term might be “unhoused.”

The contrarian voice was Councilor Ashley Hicks, who took exception to the entire notion of homelessness. Many of those who are described as homeless are doing drugs, committing acts of vandalism, and in general wreaking havoc on the community, she said.

“I think the whole ‘homeless’ thing is a buzzword, and it’s not helpful,” Hicks said. “These people are committing criminal acts. You see their names in the police logs over and over. They’re not homeless, not all of them. They’re criminals.”

Hicks also said that instead of focusing on those people committing crimes, the city should deal with more pressing issues such as the housing shortage, economic development and addressing infrastructure needs, like laying down more sidewalks.

“Dabbling in homelessness is not our business,” she said.

Councilors agreed they needed more time to settle on a list of goals. They will send their goals to City Manager Nikki Messenger, who will compile the suggestions and then present them at a future council meeting for discussion.

Scott Carroll can be reached at scarroll@nrtoday.com or 541-957-4204. Or follow him on Twitter @scottcarroll15.

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Savage

I myself have been in Roseburg as a homeless citizen and have been a criminal and I will let this be known that we homeless people are not just homeless but are struggling to be a part of the community and as we are not looked at as a equal, we are looked down upon by many of our "friendly" citizens in Roseburg. I don't know if you are or have ever been in our shoes but many of you have no idea what it is that we have to deal with while being homeless, especially when the city of Roseburg police department is not the nicest people to the homeless when they come across the camps that have many different types of people who are not trying to be in the way of the public but are trying to coexist with the community itself! I have been a homeless criminal that has committed crimes against the city just to be able to eat, cloth, and or to reside in a place that was dry from the harsh environment. This making me a homeless criminal in the city of Roseburg. Yes there are places where the people who are homeless are able to go but not all of the homeless meet the requirements of these places leaving a high number of people still struggling to be a part of the community and their families which have been in the past included children and elderly people who were not allowed or were looked down upon by the community. When will the city council begin to recognize that the homeless are people who should not be ignored anymore but should have the opportunity to get a chance to have a better life?!

BNickel

From the dictionary: :Homeless: without a home." As in, "person who lacks permanent housing" Criminal: "A person guilty or convicted of a crime" Being homeless is not a crime. Homelessness and crime are two separate issues that are often paired together, but require two separate set of solutions. And...wouldn't economic development and solutions for the housing shortage work towards providing solutions for the homeless? Stop putting up blockers to solutions, Councilwoman Hicks. Be a problem solver, not a problem to solve.

BNickel

From the dictionary: :Homeless: with a home." As in, "person who lacks permanent housing"

Criminal: "A person guilty or convicted of a crime"

Being homeless is not a crime. Homelessness and crime are two separate issues that are often paired together, but require two separate set of solutions. And...wouldn't economic development and solutions for the housing shortage work towards providing solutions for the homeless? Stop putting up blockers to solutions, Councilwoman Hicks. Be a problem solver, not a problem to solve.

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