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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

In Our View: Cheers & Jeers: Tackling homelessness; ID woes

The Columbian
Published: May 13, 2024, 6:03am

Cheers: To reducing homelessness. The Vancouver City Council has approved $12.7 million for 13 projects to reduce homelessness. The money comes from the voter-approved Affordable Housing Fund and will add 144 affordable housing units, a 14-bed group home, 20 homes for ownership, staffing for 28 shelter beds and rental assistance for 134 households. In addition, city officials approved a plan that could unlock $2 million in federal funding for various housing projects.

While the investments are necessary and will assist many needy people in our community, those efforts can be undermined if cities do not have the authority to direct people toward housing. The refusal of people to accept shelter is an increasing contributor to homelessness, and a pending case in the U.S. Supreme Court is considering that issue. Cheers go to the city of Vancouver for sincerely addressing the issue, but cities throughout the country are limited in what they can do.

Jeers: To REAL ID. State officials have reminded residents that they will need a REAL ID driver’s license or other acceptable documentation to board a commercial flight starting next year. The provision calls for a stricter level of identification in an effort to improve security.

Cheers go to improved security, but jeers are warranted for the absurdity of the REAL ID program. The initiative was passed by Congress in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and was expected to be fully enacted by 2008. Over the past 16 years, implementation repeatedly has been postponed. That lack of urgency suggests that Congress should overturn the REAL ID Act at this point.

Cheers: To Battle Ground cuisine. Battle Ground Station has brought a bit of urban flavor to the growing Clark County city. The food truck pod opened recently with seven outlets and hopes for filling all 10 spots in the near future.

Some proprietors report brisk business in the opening days of the pod along Main Street, just east of Battle Ground High School. Food trucks present a valuable opportunity for entrepreneurs and can provide a wide variety of dining options while enhancing the vibrancy of a community.

Jeers: To a shortage of workers. In seven years, according to forecasts from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, 72 percent of jobs in Washington will require a college degree or certificate demonstrating advanced knowledge of a subject. But about half of high school graduates in the state do not pursue post-secondary education.

To prepare an adequate workforce for the future, policymakers, educators, parents and students must emphasize training for a reliable career. A four-year degree is not the only path to future employment, but technical education and apprenticeships can help fill the need for jobs. Ideally, Washington will produce enough workers to support the next Amazon or Boeing that arises to power our state’s economy.

Cheers: To a zebra capture. After a week on the lam, Shug has been caught. The fugitive, believed to weigh approximately 400 pounds, had been pictured on social media riding a ferry in Puget Sound and rounding the bases at the home of the Seattle Mariners. These reports turned out to be fake news.

Instead, the zebra was finally captured in the community of Riverbend, about 30 miles east of Seattle. Three of her accomplices in a mass escape had been quickly captured, but Shug managed to foil authorities for several days until being successfully corralled.