It was standing room only on Wednesday night for the Aberdeen City Council workshop focused on homelessness.
Over 100 local business owners, advocates, and homeless residents filled the council chambers to listen as councilmembers and Mayor Erik Larson discussed priorities for the homeless issues in the city.
The evening started with the reading of a letter from the owner of the property known as River City.
Owner Mike Lang was in attendance as Council President Tawni Andrews read the letter to the council and crowd.
In the letter, Lang says that he has become the unwilling landlord;
Lang continues in the letter, addressing issues he has come across, but says that it is a burden that he has been given;
The crowd listened to the roundtable discussion between the council, with the occasional request from members of the crowd such as Housing Resource Coordinator Cassie Lentz or Aberdeen Judge Susan Solan when she spoke on the year old “Community Court” program.
Concerns raised involved many issues, notably River City, but also aggressive panhandling and crime, shopping carts used for personal use, and the overall cleanliness of Downtown Aberdeen and local parks.
Councilman Jim Cook says that these are discussions he has heard in the past, and he is looking for a solution.
As far as housing, Mayor Larson took time to address the needs in the county, and nationwide. He said that while the issues are not solely a local issue, finding a solution to the city’s problems is paramount.
Larson added that while it “seems like all we’re doing is laying down punishments and being unreasonable”, he said that all the City really has the authority and resources to do is “address the symptoms, and the symptoms that “get the most attention are ones that create the most public harm” from “very small portions of the homeless population”.
The City of Aberdeen will continue discussions, looking for a solution to specific local issues.