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Letter: It was sickening to hear a Fargo city commissioner disparage the homeless and those helping them

Chandler Esslinger of Fargo writes, "The only 'enabling' going on is Commissioner Piepkorn giving credence to uninformed, stereotypical beliefs that support the continued dehumanization of our most vulnerable community members, which further harms their ability to get the help they deserve as human beings experiencing complex issues."

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I am tired of hearing the same old stereotypical soundbites be trotted out by our community leaders when discussing our unhoused neighbors in downtown Fargo .

Like many of us, our unhoused neighbors are facing the compounding effects of substance use disorder, mental illness, poverty, violence and trauma. “Creating a safer downtown” means that we must actually create conditions where those experiencing homelessness have a safe, dignified place to get proper supports so they can ultimately find a place to call home.

There is no one better suited to address the needs of our unhoused neighbors than those who are employed by and work at the Downtown Engagement Center, and it is sickening to hear their hard work be twisted into a convenient narrative of “enabling.” The only “enabling” going on is Commissioner Piepkorn giving credence to uninformed, stereotypical beliefs that support the continued dehumanization of our most vulnerable community members, which further harms their ability to get the help they deserve as human beings experiencing complex issues.

I love Fargo, and as a downtown resident, I know that our neighborhood will only thrive once our unhoused neighbors have the ability to access housing and the support they need to survive. Until then, all of us, even Piepkorn, will suffer. The fact that he does not see his well-being as tied to the well-being of our unhoused neighbors speaks volumes to the immaturity of his myopic, hateful views.

Chandler Esslinger lives in Fargo.

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This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.

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