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City of Stevens Point News

Posted on: September 18, 2023

Mayor Wiza's Response to September 17 "Rally for Affordable & Accessible Housing"

Every person in our community should be treated with respect. Every person in our community should be able to feel safe and welcome and should not have to be subjected to intimidation or bullying. Stevens Point is a place for everyone.

MayorWiza2015.jpgOne thing that makes our community great is our ability to foster those simple rules.

However, one person's rights stop when they infringe on another person's rights. For months, we've received comments and concerns from people who have not felt safe in our community. I received a call from a concerned mother whose daughter attends school here and works as a server downtown. She walks home to her apartment through the downtown area and doesn't feel safe. I'm told she was even yelled at. This is not acceptable.

Another was an older woman who had a friend visiting. They took a walk downtown and couldn't find a place to sit and rest because the people using the benches took up the whole bench and had things scattered all around. The woman and her friend wound up going home.

Our staff, including the Streets, Parks, and Police Departments, have also taken many calls for service downtown, both from business owners and citizens.

Our public spaces are for everyone to use without feeling uncomfortable or even fearful, and most use that space respectfully. But there seem almost always to be a few who take advantage of things, and part of our job is ensuring those spaces remain safe and welcoming for everyone.

Some seem to feel that the City is ignoring the problem or, worse, actively working against solutions. That is simply not true. The City, together with many good people, has been working to find solutions for those who are unhoused. Our Housing Taskforce identified some changes to our zoning code that may help a bit, but there is no magic solution. We have worked closely with private groups, like the Salvation Army, Evergreen Community Initiatives, One Big Tent, Operation Bootstrap, and others, to set up warming centers, temporary shelters, and food banks. We have dedicated resources in the form of Mental Health officers and staff training on crisis intervention, and we've even paid for temporary shelters or transportation costs in emergencies. There have been people unsheltered and at risk of being unsheltered in all of recorded history. No city is immune. I don't think anyone can legitimately say the City of Stevens Point is ignoring the issue.

But as I said earlier, our council made a commitment, and our community has made a commitment. We are responsible for ensuring everyone feels safe and welcome in our community. That isn't happening, and we must take steps to live up to our commitment. 

We will continue to work towards ensuring our community is a safe and welcoming place for everyone, and we have many passionate people to help us. We can all do our part by respecting others and the world around us. This is our community, and we all have a responsibility to ensure that everyone feels they have a home here.

Mayor Mike Wiza

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