New Homelessness Committee Formed in Barnstable

CCB MEDIA PHOTO Used needles strewn on the ground near a campsite in Hyannis.

CCB MEDIA PHOTO
Used needles strewn on the ground near a campsite in Hyannis.

HYANNIS – A new subcommittee of the Barnstable Town Council tasked with finding solutions to the homeless issue in Hyannis met for the first time recently.

The Committee to Assess Homelessness was formed at the request of councilor Jen Cullum, who co-chairs the committee.

“The problem with the issue is that it’s sticky, complicated and massive,” she said. “There is so many people talking about the issue. We are not interested in recreating dialogue that has already happened.

Cullum wants to look at the issue from a different aspect, primarily the cost of the problem.

Barnstable police have estimated it has cost them over a half million dollars and the Hyannis Fire Department estimate costs of over $300,000.

“Right now the police have become a social services agency for the people in the woods,” Cullum said. “I don’t feel that is correct.”

Cullum said the cost is just too high for Barnstable and Hyannis taxpayers.

“I see the committee doing things like devoting it’s time to figuring out how to get people out of the woods – stop the camping,” she said. “How does that happen? And that will lead us, I’m sure, down many different paths. One of which is land use the other of which is conservation.”

The committee’s next meeting is February 25 at 5 p.m. at Barnstable Town Hall.

“I will always have public comment at these meetings. I think it is really important,” Cullum said. “I like to keep in mind that we are looking for solutions. We are not looking to complain. We all know the problems. We face them every day. I am looking for ways to make it better.”

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter

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