Fremont, Ohio in Sandusky County has a homeless shelter. A homeless shelter that denies access to registrants, but a homeless shelter none the less.
I can’t help but wonder what the “do-gooders” of this town were thinking when they set up what is basically an “emergency shelter” and then decided to be prejudiced against who they will take in.
According to the local law enforcement of Fremont, there are approximately 6-8 homeless each night in the town. Coincidently, the new shelter can hold 8 people. But if one of those 8 happens to be a registered “sex offender”, they would be left out in the cold, which in Ohio, in the dead of winter, can be very, very cold and can mean the difference between life and death. (According to Nov. 2019 city statistics, there are approximately 45 registrants living in the town of Fremont.)
I’m certain the idea of a homeless shelter was well intended when it was conceived by those in the community. Warm beds, hot showers, meals and community resources made available to those down on their luck is always a thoughtful and generous gift for any community to extend.
What I’ll never understand is the “crystal-ball mentality” of those who open these shelters, those who seem certain that a cold, hungry, homeless registrant is looking to offend rather than perhaps just needing a warm bed, shower and a meal like any other homeless person might need.
Every year we read about shelters across the country turning away registrants, whether it’s shelters opened after tornados, floods, earthquakes or freezing temperatures. The irony of the situation is there’s all sorts of people in homeless shelters, but aside from banning registrants whose names are available on a public registry, those in charge of shelters have no idea who else they may be housing. Shelters may be housing those with criminal histories far worse than any registrant’s, they can be housing those with infectious communicable diseases or harboring fugitives, they just don’t know it because there’s no registry for those groups.
What’s it going to take for communities who see the need for homeless shelters to understand that “homeless is homeless” regardless of whether or not you’re a registrant? Registrants are no more likely to commit any kind of offense in a shelter than anyone else is, that mythical “safety factor” BS just doesn’t fly anymore. If you’re going to exclude a group of people, you had better have some facts to base it on. We won’t stand for discrimination any longer.
So, what’s it going to take to change things? Sadly, we already know the answer. It’s going to take more registrants denied access to shelters and more registrants left out in the cold to freeze to death. What’s clear is that being on the registry and homeless in the middle of winter can potentially lead to death. Maybe “wrongful death suits” filed against the registry and shelters by families of registrants who have died is the answer. But should more registrants have to die before things change?
This particular shelter is funded by donations and manned by volunteers. I seriously doubt they’d accept a registrant as a volunteer, but do you think they’d turn down a registrant’s monetary donation?
I doubt it.