Over the past 13 years I have witnessed the face of homelessness and poverty change from a man, to a woman and now a child – the fastest growing population of the homeless and poverty stricken.
Today, numerous diverse social issues prey upon the stability of individuals and their families. A recent survey reveals that 40% of the homeless population admits to gambling in an effort to improve their situation. How can a man, woman, mom, dad or child endure another issue as life threatening as expanded gambling and the side-effects that are proven to come with it; namely alcohol, loitering, panhandling, prostitution, street drugs, crime and more.
I believe that we all have friends, neighbors and loved ones that are hurting and lonely – already feeling the affects of gambling. Since, the Iowa Casinos opened in 1995, I have seen firsthand an increase in gambling addictions among the poorest of the poor, but it appears there is going to be gasoline poured on a fire that is already burning.
If the Ponca Tribe builds their Casino on the proposed location it will be approximately two blocks south of the Open Door Mission’s Campus. It is already a struggle to meet the needs of the growing homeless and poverty issues. Currently, the Open Door Mission provides safe shelter to more than 320 men, women and children each night, serving nearly 1,500 meals daily and offering preventive measures to more than 250 working poor families.
This is not a political issue but rather an issue of right from wrong; principles and family values. The previous concept of a Native American Health Center would be a welcome addition. If the Ponca Tribe wants to make a positive impact in the community for the Native American population, it should pursue that venue.
The Open Door Mission does not need a Casino in its backyard, providing easy access to gambling. There are no positive outcomes that could possibly outweigh the negative consequences.
Candace L. Gregory
Open Door Mission
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