Squatter’s Rights? Shenandoah Incident Exposes Schuylkill County Homeless Crisis
A recent headline from Shenandoah caught our attention.
Actually, it wasn’t the headline — as disturbing as it is — as much as it is the public reaction to it.
Shenandoah Floppers Busted on Overdose Call
According to a recent report from The Shenandoah Sentinel, paramedics and local police responded to a call at a downtown (uptown) Shenandoah address on the night after Christmas.
The call came from 21-23 North Main Street in Shenandoah.
Here’s the big problem with that: the owner of the building is dead and the people living in these apartments shouldn’t have been there. The Shenandoah address had been condemned.
Shenandoah police told The Sentinel: “We found numerous violations. Unsafe wiring, wiring jumped, they were stealing power.” The also found “drugs and drug paraphernalia everywhere” when arriving at the scene.
It’s believed the original call from this address was for EMS personnel to attend to a potential drug overdose.
Police did find two people inside with active arrest warrants. They were taken to Schuylkill County Prison, pending arraignment.
In an update to the original reporting, the Sentinel details who was inside and what they’re facing now:
James Hall, 46, of Ringtown, was arrested on a warrant from Berks County as well as a DUI warrant from Shenandoah, and Cheyanne Sensenbach, 26, of Shenandoah, was arrested on a felony drug delivery warrant from Shenandoah. Sensenbach was arraigned and unable to post $25,000 bail.
So, as disturbing as it is that drug addicts are occupying condemned buildings, hooking them up with someone else’s electricity and then using those buildings as drug flop houses, that’s not what’s really confusing us.
Some Criticize Police for Busting the Fugitives
The Sentinel posted its article to the site’s Facebook page. And from there, it got picked up by several other popular local Facebook pages. That gave the opportunity for some real head-scratching opinions.
It only makes us believe Schuylkill County is sliding downward very quickly and too many people are complicit, just willing to watch it go.
In response to this incident and the result, one person says, “Not everyone is as lucky as other people … all they where doing was trying to survive.”
Someone else replied: “Let them go … if our government would be so f’in selfish…or maybe they are lazy who knows.” (We fixed this quote up slightly.)
In another discussion centered on this story, someone complains about the process an addict needs to go through to get shelter and some help for their addiction.
That didn’t deter someone from asking, “It’s so cold though, why not just leave them there?”
Others who advocate for addicts remind people that this could be them or someone they know, too. They blame the County government for not providing enough shelters for these addicts.
Is It Heartless to Say “Tough $#*t”?
We have a hard time getting behind advocating for the two people caught up in this situation. First, they had active warrants against them and for that reason, alone, should not have been in this flop house.
But let’s, for a moment, pretend these were just two addicts without active warrants for their arrest. Let’s assume they’re just addicts without a home looking for a place to get high.
There should not be a flop house at all.
And no, it’s not on the County government to provide a place for people to get high. It shouldn’t be on any government to provide such a place. And the government is wrong to provide antidotes to this dangerous behavior free of charge.
All this is creating is a society that enables junkies to get so high and purchase immeasurably dangerous drugs and do them with little regard for anyone.
And who’s paying for all this? You are. Whether it’s the antidote that brings people back from an overdose or the paramedics and police who have to respond to calls to bring these folks back, you’re paying.
What happens if the bootleg electrical system these particular floppers rigged had failed? It could have triggered a huge fire in Shenandoah.
And people seem to believe this is just one of many flop houses in Schuylkill County. Over the summer, we saw evidence of one in Pottsville, too. Don’t forget about the Days Inn near Cressona, too. How many times did fire officials respond to incidents there in 2019?
Schuylkill County Poop Patrol
So, to those saying we should show more empathy toward the addicts, where’s the line?
We have people saying it’s OK that wanted individuals were living in a condemned apartment with bootleg electric. What’s next, pooping in the streets? It sounds silly but it’s actually serious. And we’re serious, too.
Because that’s where cities and towns eventually go when they keep enabling addicts to get high wherever they want.
We feel bad for those in the grips of these addictions. For many though, it was a decision they initially made and kept making. Should we enable all addicts? Free cigarettes? Free booze?
Schuylkill County officially has a homeless crisis but it’s combating it the wrong way but a lot of people seem like they’re OK with it.