Money, Homelessness and Behavior

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“Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.”

–Herman Melville

A report in the Philadelphia Daily News about a recent murder of a woman by her boyfriend at the Lincoln Motel in Trevose, PA, where he flung gasoline on her as she was smoking, became a judgmental piece about class, where money was equated with behavior. “The blaze gutted the building – and was just the latest in years of occurrences that have made notorious a cluster of inns along Route 1 in Bensalem township…”

The reporter said that the inns in the vicinity of the Lincoln Motel have a much higher rate of crime than motels just up the road where Route 1 crosses Street Road which are “higher rate establishments”.  The implication is that people are better behaved because they shell out more money for a motel. This is judgmental, offensive.

This opinion about people with less money reflects an attitude that has infested Bucks County, PA and has become an epidemic. This attitude is apparent in the way the homeless in Bucks County are judged — that because they are not living in a nice suburban house, they are bad people, a menace to society, collectively a persona non grata.

In the mid 1800s, William Booth, a preacher, broke from his church and established the Salvation Army and was on a mission to reach out to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute, going against the conventional wisdom at the time. The people he reached out to did not have black iron fences, the equivalent of today’s white picket fences. Mr. Booth evidently saw these people as having the same needs as the upper classes in Victorian society; they are sinners in need of grace and made in the image of God.

Throughout the history of the church, congregations have strayed from Biblical truths and have become polluted with worldly views. This is the case with the Salvation Army Community center in Levittown, PA, run by Captain Caspar Milquetoast. Instead of standing up for the homeless, officials at the center have taken a worldly view about them, thinking just like the rest of Bucks County.

On one occasion, I engaged in a discussion with The Countess of Carlisle, Salvation Army Levittown Community Relations and Development Director about the way the homeless are treated at the Levittown public library. She Augustly stated that people in the community don’t like the homeless there, and that they are dirty, smell, are unkempt, and eat food at the tables. I told her that the homeless there don’t smell, are not dirty and unkempt, and as far as some of them eating snacks at the table, just tell them not to, as you would anyone else. I said they have a right to be there and the rules should be enforced as they would for everybody. I also asked if she visited the library to get firsthand information. She didn’t respond to this but belittled me.

An official from  Salvation Army division headquarters offered me a job writing for the Salvation Army. I had to go through the Countess, who stonewalled me. At one point she snapped “I don’t have time for that.” It had nothing to do with our conversation. If you believe that, you probably believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny!

At that time I had just started hanging out with the local homeless.

Another judgmental elitist, Queen Latifah, Social Services Director at the Levittown Corps, told me I should not continue to hang out with them because they will just use me and are disreputable characters. When I challenged her one-size-fits-all pronouncement, she went ballistic!

When the queen hosts the community meals for the homeless, she treats them like criminals and children.

“Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.”

–Leviticus 19:15