by Denise M. Martin, Branson

​I migrated from Portland, Oregon, to Branson, Missouri, two weeks ago. Though an advocate for the homeless, and deeply involved in the homeless epidemic in Portland, I fled the gruesome, heart-wrenching poverty there that is swallowing the city. 

There are tents on almost every block and desperate humans we call The Walking Dead Inside laying on sidewalks, acting out in mental illness, or just walking the streets starving, thirsty, filthy and hopeless.

I was shocked and annoyed when I read about Missouri’s new bill to criminalize homelessness.

However, having seen the homeless siege on Portland destroy small businesses and the city itself, I think it might be necessary. That being said, you can’t drive desperate people further into tragedy without creating a solution. 

I think that we need to ask/force churches and religious organizations with tax-exempt status to host urban campers on their land. They have the volunteer pool to support and police the homeless who need a place to lay down legally, and access a bathroom and electricity. Religious organizations need to work for their tax-exempt status with community service that reflects their spiritual beliefs and mission.

There truly is nowhere else for the homeless to go!​