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The city of Eureka and Humboldt county government have made many efforts to address homelessness over the years. Though some individuals have been helped, the greater population without homes is still suffering. I consider the American homeless collateral damage of our present economic system. They've been driven from the rental market, robbed of their homes by predatory lenders and made unable to sustain themselves and their families in these times of escalating costs and low wages. As one woman told me, "I'm 52 years old. I had a job and a house. I was married and raised my kids. I never thought I would end up like this."

This humanitarian crisis requires new ideas. Oregon and Washington have pioneered villages in the city limits with "tiny houses," a kind of detached bedroom for one or two people. Bathroom and kitchen facilities are used communally. It's a lot like a recreational campground. Other communities are creating sanctuary camps with tents and facilities available. These camps are sanctioned by local government and provide 24-hour security for the residents.

Tacoma, Washington, recently started supplying portable bathroom and washing facilities to existing camps. This is less disruptive and less expensive than breaking up communities and dealing with the health issues of unmet basic human needs.

As I watch the spontaneous response of people helping their neighbors in Houston from the effects of the hurricane, I wonder what is stopping us from providing basic shelter to our neighbors living year after year without ("The Best and Worst of Us," Sept. 7). If we see "the problem" as insurmountable, simple or innovative solutions may elude us. Collaboration between local agencies and citizens would help all of us in reestablishing a community that works for everyone.

Peg Anderson, Redway

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