The two articles in Sunday's paper were informative regarding the changes as to where the homeless or vagrants go to drink now. I can tell you from firsthand experience exactly where a group of four to seven hold "happy hour."
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At 4:30 p.m. every day, they are sitting directly in front of my parked car, in the small and somewhat unknown state parking garage area on Second and Gold streets. I park in the covered street-level portion, and since the changes have been made to Pocket Park, the broken glass, empty paper bags, leftover food items and smell of urine has increased tremendously. There is also an entire wall covered in graffiti.
This disturbs me more - to have graffiti popping up all over town and no landlord or city worker is scrubbing it off. Sure, the city cleans up Franklin Street for the tourists, but has anyone given thought to cleaning up the city for its residents?
In early May, someone spread feces along my driver's door and under the handle. I called the police and was told how unfortunate. I did notice one nightwatch officer there the next evening, eyeing the graffiti, but it's still there. Luckily, I have not had any more problems with my car. I have not contacted the police about these drinkers "lurking" in the garage, because we are so shorthanded of officers anyway. But I can say twice, I found persons sleeping there at 7:15 a.m. when I arrive for work, and once I called the Juneau Recovery Unit because I almost rolled over the guy when I pulled in to park.
I work in the legal sector and fully understand the problem Juneau has with alcohol-related issues. Maybe a reporter could do an article on what the homeless people need or want from a city. Interview the ones squirreled away in various corners of town. Seek them out and give them a voice instead of a gloss over and hide them away when the cruise ships come in. Maybe together, some ideas can bubble up that help give dignity back to them and our town.
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