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The Homeless Here Have Connections Here

I found the article "Home Free" (News & Features, April 12) to be extremely offensive. It conveys a long-existing myth, not a truism, that the homeless people in Richmond are not members of the Richmond community but instead displaced people attracted by the warm generosity of the service system.

Indeed, multiple studies have shown that the individuals using shelter and meal programs are Richmond residents and people with long connections to the city. Two of the profiles included in the article provide testimony to that — J.R. who has been "living well" under a bridge in Richmond, occasionally partaking of showers and lunch sites for over five years, and a family displaced from their Oregon Hill home as rental costs there skyrocketed.

The mistaken belief that the homeless within our community are not of our community is one shared by people in cities across the country and serves to divorce many from the sense of responsibility to create change.

There is an array of dedicated and wonderful providers, volunteers, faith communities and private funders who are committed to mediating the detrimental effects of living on the streets for people experiencing homelessness in Richmond. While generous of spirit, many of these same committed individuals are distressed by how little they are able to offer to those whose needs are often so great.

Wouldn't true generosity move beyond ensuring that people have the very minimal assistance they need to survive — shelter when it is under 25 degrees and access to food — to incorporate strategies so that individuals and families can live amongst us in housing of their own? Should a measure of a generous city be that a physically disabled man with cancer is allowed to live largely unmolested under a city bridge for five years?

I find much to love about Richmond, my home for nearly 20 years, but the generosity of its response to homelessness and other poor city residents is not remarkable or admirable. Richmond is in no way a Mecca for homeless people. I do understand there are significant and ambitious local efforts under way to improve the city's response to homelessness. A true mark of the generosity of the city will be demonstrated in the support these initiatives receive from the public that will allow our displaced neighbors to live fully integrated lives in their community.

Sharon McDonald
Former staff member,
the Daily Planet

So Long, McCray

My very best to designer Chris McCray ("Designer Takes a Hike," Street Talk, April 12)! As his client, I enjoyed and respected the many facets of his talent. At the same time, he made me his student, teaching me about his art and his respect for design and engaging me in the fun of the foil of his playfulness with tradition. And then there was his professionalism and his kindness. Did he have an impact? He surely did on my "digs"! Godspeed, Chris!

Melanie Becker

Don't Slight the Wealthy

In response to Eric Futterman's letter, "Republicans' Catchphrase Is Attempt at Obfuscation" (Letters, April 19), I disagree with one of his main points: that millionaires should not receive any more tax cuts.

Don't fault tax cuts for millionaires as a reason for reducing revenue. Mr. Futterman implies the wealthy and Republicans are innately greedy and hinder economic growth when the opposite is clearly the case. Do you realize how much money millionaires and billionaires contribute to the welfare of society through government taxes, donations to charities and the creation of scholarships and college trusts?

To begin with, the top 20 percent of income earners pay nearly 80 percent of individual income taxes. Furthermore, the top 1 percent of income earners take in about 15 percent of all income in the United States — yet they pay almost 30 percent of all individual income taxes.

Besides enriching humanity by funding education, welfare and Social Security programs, most of the wealthy represent high standards of moral and social integrity, which serves as an example for younger generations to emulate. Moreover, the wealthy represent the fundamentals of capitalism, without which we would perish. All in all, the wealthy deserve tax cuts because they pay more than their equal share of money to the benefit of society.

Brian Prestwood

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