Have you walked past the Lakewalk entrance by the Electric Fetus on Lake Avenue and Superior Street lately?
Seems that it’s become the cool place to hang out — at least for Duluth’s homeless. In spite of the availability of nearby public restrooms, the smell of urine and feces is ubiquitous.
This is a public health issue. Sanitary issues at homeless encampments have lead to 16 deaths in a hepatitis outbreak in San Diego.
Of course the homeless need help — and we have CHUM and many other great shelters and places for those who need help to find it. But ignoring the public health risks of what has become a homeless encampment at Shoreline Fountain and tossing out a couple bucks to the person holding a sign on the corner is not a good solution.
We’re not doing the homeless or our city any favors by simply ignoring them and waiting for cold weather to drive them away from public view. We need get those who truly need help the assistance they need and stop hazardous behavior if it occurs. None of that seems to be happening right now.
It’s a shame — Duluth has a great downtown. But we won’t make the very real public health issues around homelessness go away by ignoring them.
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