DEAR EDITOR:

I just read the article in Sunday’s Rome News-Tribune regarding the homeless issue.

Without denigrating the reasons for the push to pass ordinances against panhandling, etc., I think the underlying problems should be addressed first.

According to my research, 0.17% of Americans are estimated to be homeless. That’s over half a million citizens. Of these, 20-25% are estimated to have severe mental health issues. An estimated 12% of these are veterans. To put it in perspective, that means in Floyd County we have an estimated 153 homeless. It also means 30-38 of these have severe mental health issues and 18 are veterans. To read in the article that in January 2019 there were more than 200 when counted in this county makes the problem even worse.

This is unconscionable! The article noted the problem has been exacerbated since Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital was closed eight years ago. I’ve been told one of the reasons it was done was because it was considered inhumane and cruel to institutionalize those with mental health issues. I hope this was not a reason, but if it was, it was extremely short-sighted, for since then, many of these same people have ended up in jail instead, where the likelihood of officers trained in dealing with mental health issues is less. Seems much more inhumane and cruel to me. Too bad the U.S. Constitution doesn’t ban cruel and unusual punishment.

Now this hospital is closed while the state uses tax dollars to maintain this same closed facility.

Why is that? Why isn’t this facility being used to house the homeless, especially ones with mental issues? Especially since the state is still maintaining the facility.

It is estimated 1 in 5 Americans have mental health issues, with 42% of these receiving treatment each year. Meaning we have an estimated 18,000 in this county with mental health issues with over 8,000 receiving treatment every year.

Seems to me there is a great need for a facility like a hospital specifically focused on mental issues to meet the needs of our citizens. Oh, wait. There’s Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital. Too bad it’s closed.

John Franclemont

Rome

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