The Tri-Cities' story of relative prosperity in a troubled economy has, it turns out, a dark side.
It is true that our unemployment rate is lower than the state's and the nation's. We do have, relatively speaking, higher-paying jobs.
But we also have local people who are out of work and who have been out of work, for which they are highly qualified, for some time.
Which brings us to the dark side of our reputation. Jobless people from other places, sometimes far away, hear of our relative prosperity and come here thinking they have a better chance at a job.
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We've used some form of "relatively" three times now for a reason.
An out-of-work person is in just as much trouble in a place with 6 percent unemployment as with 10.
And the truth is that in the last days of winter, the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission in Pasco was full to overflowing with homeless men. Some of them, as the story by Herald reporter Kristi Pihl showed, came here from out of town for jobs, only to find themselves at the back of a line of equally qualified local people.
The Mission staff was surprised because the crowding (they turned away a male applicant for the first time in the mission's 57-year history) came as spring approached rather than in the depth of winter.
Did we say crowding? Make it overcrowding. People are sleeping on the floor of the chapel, on any half-occupied square of space that can be found. It is a struggle.
It's not unusual for mission staff to have to turn away women. The women's and children's shelter can house only 28 and usually is full.
The Mission buildings are almost 100 years old. The Mission hopes to build a new men's shelter and a new women's shelter soon.
But that's some way off, the winds still are cold and the night temperatures are in the 30s right now.
Clearly, more shelter is needed in the Tri-Cities, for men, women and children.
The Mission is turning to churches and the general public for help.
Much is needed, including food, especially meat; laundry soap; paper products such as toilet paper and napkins; socks; and underwear.
Donations can be dropped off at the men's shelter, 112 N. Second Ave. Cash donations can be sent to the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission, P.O. Box 1443, Pasco, WA 99301, or online at tcugm.org.
It boils down to this: Our community is (for the fourth time) relatively prosperous. But we do have people, families, who are homeless.
They are dependent on our food banks and on whatever shelters they can find to get by.
A substantial number of these people are in these circumstances for the first times in their lives.
Telling them to "get a job" is a thoughtless cruelty; that's exactly what they are trying to do.
The Mission needs help.
The food banks too.
Let's do what we can in the long run and what we must in the short run to help.
Let's not let shelter and food run out just because luck did.