Dear editor,

Regarding the recent story about homeless people in the downtown area, this has to be the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all season.

I personally know the people they are referring to who use the parking ramps as a place to sleep, and they are FAR from dangerous! In fact they are two of the most passive men you would ever meet! Both are elders who simply have come upon hard times, and wish nothing but a place out of the elements for a few hours. All other times you will find these men shivering in the cold or reading periodicals at the library. Neither are a nuisance or intimidating in the least – in fact they are people who have kept me safe and protected during the few months I myself have been homeless.

Scary, frightening, noisy, or a nuisance – all words that any of us would choose LAST to describe these men that I endearingly call “Choka,” which means “Grandpa” in my native language.

This would be laughable if it weren’t so offensive. Instead, I invite the council and mayor to see these people how they are – people. Get to know them, say good morning, ask about their lives. Many of the homeless people I have gotten to know in the last few months are interesting, literate, humorous, and upset they are seen as lesser than others.

Sometimes it only takes one wrong turn in life to end up on the streets, and many of us are docile, friendly, giving people. Ask anyone who frequents the areas where we congregate – the volunteers, pastors, women and men who donate their time and resources to assist any way they can – these people can tell you we are quick to lend a hand, hold open a door, help carry donations. We are patient, kind, resourceful, and caring. We aren’t a problem, but if the city thinks we are, we beg for a solution. Jail, fines, and general ostracizing won’t do anything but perpetuate our situations and increase costs for taxpayers.

Roberta Bateman, Wausau