Social problems in Morgantown, WV

2 Oct

Social problems in Morgantown, WV

In my blog today, I want to bring to attention some very serious social issues that are negatively affecting development in Morgantown. These are homelessness, drug addiction and crime. The problem of vagrancy in the town is so dire that you cannot walk down the streets without encountering a homeless person. Some will be seated on a stoop while others just shuffle down the streets’ sidewalks. When I went to check the downtown area there on Sept 24 to gather more information for this article, I was shocked by the sheer number of the homeless persons occupying the streets. This challenged my strongly held view that homeless people can only be found in larger cities and not relatively smaller ones.

As per statistics from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, West Virginia in 2018 had about 1,243 persons classified as homeless. Of this homeless population, family households were 73 while 131 were veterans. Furthermore, unaccompanied young adults between ages 18 and 24 were approximately 61 while the rest (154) were persons experiencing chronic homelessness. Check this link (https://www.usich.gov/homelessness-statistics/wv/). I learnt from my respondents that homelessness has led to other problems particularly drug abuse and armed robbery. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) 2018 report released last on September this year, there was a spike in burglary cases as well as assaults and car thefts. Check the report here (https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/fbi-releases-2018-crime-statistics).

In my opinion, high crime levels among the homeless are due to the fact that it is quite hard for them to find jobs because they lack sufficient resources such as clean dressing and a home address, which are required by many companies when hiring. Other vagrant men and women, I discovered, are suffering from untreated mental illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder and as such, keeping a job for them is impossible. With no alternative to make a livelihood, they resort to begging and others engage in illicit activities like crime and drug abuse.

Unfortunately, I found out that it has been an arduous task trying to alleviate the problem of vagrancy that will ultimately keep the homeless off Morgantown’s streets. When I interviewed Morgantown City Manager Paul J. Brake on the measures they are using to address the problem, he told me that they were planning a special session on homelessness, addiction and other societal problems affecting the Downtown area. He said that they have settled on Oct 11 Friday morning as the day of that meeting. I also interviewed the city’s communication manager Andrew Stacy who works at Brake’s office and he also confirmed to me about the special meeting planned for Oct 11. He added that it will be a multi-agency kind of session where they will invite various stakeholders to help in finding a lasting solution to homelessness. Accordingly, he told me that they have invited local non-profit representatives and officials from the police department to give their contribution.

The communication manager said something which greatly moved me. Stacy said that the fact that they are battling those social issues does not necessarily mean that Morgantown is an unsafe place for people to live but means the opposite. In like manner, it is not my intention to show how unsafe and uninhabitable the town is by writing in my blog about homelessness and crime. To the contrary, I intend to bring to light some social issues that are affecting our beloved cities, which when addressed will make us lead happy lives.

 

 

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