The homeless have been cleared out of the woods near the public library in Levittown, PA. Some of them got to where they needed to go — in one case, because of an overdose. In another the result of a Bucks County Ranger convincing a guy with a drinking problem to go to a place where he can get help.
I visited my homeless friend there and attended the orientation. I think this place will work, unlike Penndel Mental Health Center, whose snake oil salesmen round up the homeless as patients by hook or crook and rely heavily on drugs and psychobabble. At the orientation, the director said that God is an addict’s ultimate hope.
Except for a few instances, the woods were cleared out Roundup style, which kills everything — the weeds and the grass.
There is still the matter of where the guy will go to lead an independent, productive, healthy life after he’s done the program.
The ranger who sent the guy in the right direction was part of a team of people who had tirelessly ministered to him. This is how we need to deal with the homeless problem in Bucks County, PA. People in the community need to develop relationships with the homeless, working with them for their betterment of the community to lend a hand up to help themselves, rather than using the one-size-fits all Roundup approach, treating all homeless like weeds.
Although some of the homeless, as is the case in any population, are problematic, especially the druggies, they are all human, fallen creatures like the rest of us but made in the image of God.
It’s good that the homeless guy in this case, with a little help from his friends, was able to find a good place, at least for the time being. For all the homeless there needs to be a place they can call home.
Some homeless only need a place to stay.
“If I did drugs, I could find a place. If I was an alcoholic, I could find a place. If you’re just on hard times, there’s nowhere to go.” said a homeless man about to be evicted from an encampment.
The so called “opportunities” section of the eviction notices posted in the woods is a bridge to nowhere. One homeless guy told me he called all the numbers, and the best opportunity he found was they “could not do anything for him unless he had children. A friend with lung cancer I’m taking care of and I have been on shelter lists for months. Fortunately, we’ve found an adequate place to stay, at least temporarily.
Not everybody is able to do this.
Bucks County has known about the homeless problem in Bucks since the late 80’s. People have been trying to match vacant property, which is greater than the homeless population, with people needing housing for some time. I emailed a county commissioner with the idea of designating some unused county land for the homeless, but the response was this would jeopardize their opportunities for the so-called opportunities listed on the eviction notice.
This situation reminds me of the Ronald Reagan joke: A shopkeeper asked a woman who was getting married for the third time why she would wear white. The woman explained that right after the first wedding, the groom had a heart attack. After her second wedding she had an argument with the groom and the wedding was annulled. The third time she married a Democrat. He just sat on the edge of the bed for four years and told her how good it would be.
Talk is cheap.
The Bucks County Rangers have a tough job. They are caught in the middle. The Bucks County Commissioners and other politicians, unlike the Rangers who have to go out and face the people who camp on public lands because they have no place else to go, are out of touch with the homeless. Evidently, to them, the homeless are just weeds that need to be removed, wanting to have a manicured suburban lawn complete with the personal peace and prosperity including a white picket fence.
The ranger who convinced the homeless man to get the help he needs is a step in the right direction.
At the guy’s orientation, the director said he knew the guy who runs the local 12 Step Program, which my friend said he wants to attend.
It’s a step in the right direction.
Where have all the Homeless gone?
The bigger question is where will they go?