Thursday, March 7, 2019

Why Don't We Just Open Up Empty Homes to Shelter the Homeless?

I have had people living in my dwellings for 30 years, and am looking to do it again. However, this isn’t a casual undertaking and must be considered with wisdom.
I allowed people live in my house after I knew them and their habits well. I didn’t just open up a house and let anyone stay there. There are some who live on the street who have a philosophy of damaging property, any property. And there are some who will steal. Let’s face it, there are bad people out there, and it requires wisdom and effort to discover who should be allowed in a house.
A single house can hold a number of people, but if they don’t get along then violence can occur. Or the house could be used as a place to sell or make illegal drugs. It wouldn’t help anyone if the house was condemned because of criminal activity.
Generally, a house to provide shelter for the homeless needs a manager who will uphold the desires of the owner and prevent criminal activity. This person or these persons will need to be paid. Insurance will have to be obtained.
To house people isn’t a light undertaking. Certainly not something we just want to open doors and offer freely. Many vacant homes are vacation spots or shelters for emergencies, and the owner will want to make sure that the home is in the same condition in which they left it.
To house people is an expesnive, somewhat risky undertaking. It isn’t for everyone. However, we need more people doing it than are, currently

Unethical Panhandling?

Is it morally unethical to ask for money because you’re homeless, yet you have the money to afford rent and are too lazy to get a job?
  1. If a person claims to be homeless when looking for help but they are not, then that is lying and so unethical.
  2. Panhandling while not homeless is ethical, as it is just a means for people to ask for support. I’ve seen fathers go on the street and hold signs asking for help for their electric bill. As long as people are honest.
  3. If you want to hold a sign, but not tell your story, the sign can read, “Anything helps” and hold it proudly. Then you are asking, but not lying.
  4. Flying a sign doesn’t make very much money. Maybe 30 dollars a day, if you have a good demographic. (women and people with animals receive more). Tough to pay rent on that.
  5. Flying a sign isn’t easy. Emotionally, it’s as hard as a job, and if you want to pay rent with it, you’d have to do it every day. Frankly, getting a job is more lucrative and often less work, even temporary labor. Almost all people who fly a sign do so because they can’t get work, not because they’re lazy.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Using Police as a Strategy


-When six police officers came to my church, handcuffed and seated ten people in the parking lot and threatened them verbally. Ten more officers came, with their lieutenant, who asked me, “Are you the pastor? Does your congregation want people like this here?” I pointed at all the people they had handcuffed and said, “They ARE my congregation.” The lieutenant turned to his officers and said, “We aren’t wanted here, let’s go” and they all released the folks and left. But not before the officer who started it all screamed at my face for “enabling these criminals.”

-The time an officer came to my church, harassing someone on my property. I calmly informed him that people who threaten others aren’t allowed on the property and he would have to stop or leave. He turned on me and said, “Sanctuary, what kind of a name is that”? I said, “It means a place that is safe for people to honor God.” “You mean safe from the authorities?” “Safe from anyone who threatens their well-being.” He huffed off.

-The time a group of officers came to move someone off of our property and they handcuffed and threatened the person in question. I told them not to threaten or harm him. An officer replied to me, “If you really want to help him, you’d send him to jail.” I replied, “Jail isn’t what he needs. He needs the freedom and opportunity to choose mercy and kindness. Jail takes away all choices, not allowing for any real change to happen.”

-An officer comes to our property during a winter shelter and asks if there are any problems. “No problems,” I say, “We work things out ourselves here.” “Well, if you need any help,” he says, “Be sure to call us. We are here to help you workers, not these people,” he points to houseless folk smoking beside the church.

* * *
Some politicians think the solution to homelessness is more police, better police, even arrests.  However, poverty is never reduced by police work, no matter how good. The very nature of a police officer is the threat they carry to force one to do their will.  What homeless folks need, more than anything, is space to make their own positive decisions. They can’t make positive decisions unless they have the freedom to make decisions.  Jail, the justice system, police accusations, arrests take away decisions from those who have too few choices to begin with.

When you are looking for a group to be the frontline for solving a city’s homeless issues, the police is the last group to use.  There is no reason to take the group that accuse families and the struggling of being criminals and make them the face of the city to the homeless.  This approach only increases a person’s stay on the street.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

All the Things

The mayor of Portland took one look at a village, an opportunity for people on the street to get some stability and a path off the street and he said, "No effing way," and sent his police to clear us all out. We can shake our heads or cry out against him for his rejection of a positive way of providing real help for houseless folks.
But any advocate who rejects the plans of the county or of business people or of neighborhoods to do what they can, how are they any better? Sure, administration is imperfect, placement is imperfect, it doesn't work for everyone on the street, but I've heard very few plans that doesn't help enough people on the street to make the effort worthwhile. As for the imperfections, rather than rejecting the effort, let's work with people to improve their work.
We are in an emergency. We can't afford to reject efforts. We need them all.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

How Do Houseless Folks Obtain State ID?

It is frequent that houseless folks lose their ID.  Wallets are stolen, misplaced, taken by officials sweeping their camp.  In obtaining a new ID, there could be a number of issues: finances, proof of identification, and having an address to put on an ID.

1. Birth certificates are the main form of proof.  If one doesn't have this, they must obtain it from the county of their birth.  This is easiest to get if one has an immediate family member obtain it for them.  To get it otherwise, one has to have other kinds of proof, such as an affidavit from a person who knows who they are, signed before a notary public.  Other kinds of proof could  be military records or jail/prison records.

2. Generally a person proves their address by giving a piece of mail from an address.  But what address?  P.O. Boxes aren't accepted. In most cities there are churches or non-profit organizations who will act as an address for people who live on the street.

3. Many cities have organizations that provide finances to obtain state ID.  Check a local shelter or day shelter if they have any information about help in this area.

There is also a possibility that if a person is still in the system, a copy of their ID might be provided with a minimum proof, as they have a picture and signature of the individual in their system.  Check with your state DMV for more information on this. 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

How do Houseless Folks Affect the Economy?

Houseless folks add to the economy in many ways. Forty percent of houseless folks have jobs, others are active in recycling, and all of them participate in paying sales tax.
The real economic drain comes in health expenses. Many houseless have no health insurance, and emergency room visits are a huge expense. Living in the rough is unhealthy and most the average year of death of houseless folks is 48, before that end, many have expensive procedures.
It is considerably cheaper for a society to provide housing than to treat people who live on the street. The economy would improve, and we would have more citizens involved in our community, if all who wanted to be housed could be.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Why are so many Homeless Addicted?

Homeless Resource Network
It is often assumed that houseless folks become homeless due to drugs and alcohol, which is why there are so many people we see using such items on the street.
However, it has been shown that approximately fourteen percent of those on the street lost their housing due to substance abuse. As a person is on the street longer, the more likely it is that they will be addicted to a drug. Chronic houseless individuals are much more likely to be addicted than a person on the street for a year or less.
This is because drugs or alcohol are being used as a way to ease the pain of living on the street, especially if they are regularly harassed and abused. Up to 80 percent of homeless youth use substances to deal with the trauma they experience every day.
I have found again and again that many houseless individuals or couples find it a fair exchange to drop their substance abuse for stability and opportunities for a new life. This isn’t true of everyone, as the street is also the only reliable depot of those our society considers unacceptable. But we need to stop considering substance abuse as a personal failure and instead see it as a health issue in our society.

Reference: National Coalition on the Homeless,