Catherine Zall New London Editor's note: Ms. Zall is the executive director of the New London Homeless Hospitality Center.
In a July 9 letter, "Challenges in dealing with the homeless," the writer proposed that "many (most?) homeless are dually diagnosed both mentally ill and addicted." Mental illness and substance abuse are real problems that impact lives across every strata of our society. For most people, however, homelessness has economic causes.
Many in our region are barely making ends meet week to week. Even a single event, the loss of a job, an illness, car problems or the end of relationship can quickly lead to loss housing. The vast majority of people we serve at the New London Homeless Hospitality Center reach us by this route. We are not making any efforts to attract people to our region but are simply working to provide a vital safety net to our neighbors. If a few so-called "outsiders" end up with some help in the process, does that really outweigh the benefit of offering our neighbors facing homelessness a place they can turn for help?
Quality of life has many definitions. It should, of course, include the ability for all of us to feel safe and to enjoy our beautiful city in peace. Anyone, homeless or housed, who disturbs the peace of others, needs to be help accountable. But quality of life also, I think, means being there for each other in times of need.