Who Let The Homeless Out?

Looking out from in front of the Levittown public library towards New Falls Road in Levittown, PA, I see a building under construction, right next to the Levittown-Fairless Hills Rescue Squad. In an earlier blog, I thought that this under construction building was the affordable housing project. 

Evidently, thinking the affordable housing project was under way was just an unfounded leap of pure optimism! I should know by now that any project to help people struggling would be met with resistance.  

Housing Visions, a non-profit, wants to build two, three-story apartment buildings on 2.7 acres of land owned by the Levittown-Fairless Hills Rescue Squad that would start on the side of the squad building and wrap around behind it.  The site was chosen because it’s hard to find flat, undeveloped land in Levittown.  Affordable housing is greatly needed, as evidenced by the mushrooming homeless population in lower Bucks County, PA.  

The affordable housing proposal, as is typical when it comes to non-government housing in Bucks County, is meeting with much resistance.  Rules are obstructing going forward with the project. A politician complained that the affordable housing project would increase traffic in an already busy area. Well, WaWa, just down the street, was approved as was the current project right next door to the proposed housing site!  

http://levittownnow.com/2019/06/24/58-unit-affordable-housing-project-proposed-for-2-7-acre-levittown-property/ 

In 2017, Interfaith Housing, a non-profit, which creates affordable housing for poor people in the greater Levittown area, and is associated with Housing Visions, proposed buying the closed Maple Shade Elementary School in Bristol Township. Their plan was poo-pooed, just as was my proposal to a county commissioner to use public land to create a homeless camp/village.  

I wonder if the township is going to do the same thing with Maple Shade and other closed schools as they did to the historic Sunbury Farms off of Newportville Road. They demolished it! This historic building was structurally sound and just needed a little work to restore the place. People out of work could have easily restored the building, and could have even become guides if it could be turned into a museum.  

The root of the housing problem is the prejudice against the poor, the homeless.  The Bucks County elitists don’t want to entertain the idea that there are those who struggle. They can’t see from up high on their Ivory Towers. All they see is the surface glitter! 

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Houston We Have A Problem

Houston, we have a problem. From space, looking at the earth, we see a drug abuse problem. We can even see it from the moon!  

Signs outside the Levittown-Fairless Hills rescue squad show the extent of the problem in the greater Levittown, PA vicinity. From the squad’s Facebook page:  

Levittown-Fairless Hills Rescue Squad  

August 9 at 12:50 PM ·  

Updated Overdose Numbers are 163 Overdoses with 18 deaths. Since 2016 we have had a total of 786 overdoses and 72 deaths in our coverage area which is Levittown, Fairless Hills, Bristol Township, Tullytown, parts of Morrisville and Yardley. This continues to be an epidemic in our area. If you know someone that wants help please contact Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission Inc at 1-800-662-4357 (HELP) #overdoses #epidemic #ems #ems911 #gethelp #addiction #roadtorecovery #lfhrs  

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The drug abuse problem is everywhere and has become astronomical!

What do we do with the drunken sailor?  

That’s a relatively simple question. You put a drunken sailor in the brig until he gets sober! Resolving the drug abuse epidemic is not as simple. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men have been having trouble putting broken people back together again! Everyone knows there is a problem, but the question is what is the best way to deal with it?  

To help rescue people from their destructive behavior, the voluntary slavery of drug addiction, the faith community has been reaching out with events, regular meetings, and other resources. “The Faith Community and Addiction – What You Can Do” was the subject of Faith Summit II held at Cairn University in Langhorne, PA on October 13, 2018. There were testimonies from redeemed drug users and appeals from various speakers for the Christian community to reach out and welcome addicts into their fold to help them. A speaker related how he started a Bible-based group where addicts help one another then brought the program to a church.  

The initiatives in the faith community entail people helping one another, redeemed addicts helping those still struggling with the problem and others who have had other issues (as we all do to one degree or another) and want to help. I’ve been attending programs and events of one such organization, Conquering Life Prison and Recovery Ministries (CLPRM), headquartered in Feasterville, PA.  

CLPRM is gearing up and conducting fundraising for the 7th annual Conquering Grounds Music Fest & Relapse Prevention on September 14. The event is being funded by private organizations where people just want to help people conquer the voluntary slavery of addiction and are doing it without pay.  

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The politicians and the government had their chance. It’s about time we the people decide the best way to help people conquer their voluntary slavery of addiction. Abusing drugs is a choice (why do you think they call it dope?). How to best help addicts should also be a choice. We need more accountability for anti-drug programs as well as for the addicts. If, as the modern mantra goes, which politicians like to spout, drug addiction is a disease, then they can’t help themselves. Well, we can help them help themselves!

Standing As Equals

In my last blog, where I referenced the book “Not Just A One Night Stand; Ministry With The Homeless”, I took issue with the authors writing that “alcoholism” is a disease.  It is not.  

A few pages later in the book, however, an anecdote where the homeless advocate brings some homeless friends to a swanky chamber of commerce luncheon illustrates that alcohol abuse is not a disease. The tickets for the homeless were paid for but there was a stipulation that these friends not show up drunk. And they came to the luncheon sober! Addiction is a choice! And one of the homeless guests got to speak to the audience!  And he clearly articulated what it is like to be homeless and what their needs are. 

Alcohol abuse can prevent people from accomplishing their goals. In Mel Brook’s “Silent Movie”, to keep small movie producer Mel Funn, who had a drinking problem, from buying their studio and producing his movie, big movie producer Engulf & Devour hired a beautiful woman to pretend to be in love with Funn and break his heart. She did, and he started going back to the bottle. In one scene, Mel sees a neon sign of a giant bottle of liquor in a store window. Lines from Handel’s “Messiah” sounds out “King of Kings, and Lord of Lords…”  Churches need to direct people away from idols such as alcohol, and towards God. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silent_Movie

The book illustrates how some folks who want to help the homeless really don’t understand the homeless or homelessness. They go to classes on the homeless. I agree with the authors that the homeless can teach us, not just what homelessness is really about and about the homeless themselves, but they can teach us about life.   

I subscribe to the slogan coined by a group of homeless people “Don’t Talk About Us; Talk With Us”. We need, however, to use our best judgment to discern who is being straight with us and who is conning us. This is true outside the homeless community.  

What Not Just A One Night Stand rightly points out is that the homeless not only need food and shelter, but productive activities such as reading and work.  They also need to be fed spiritually. The homeless need to be accepted as equals and appreciated that they have value, made in the image of God, like the rest of us.  

In the greater Levittown, PA area, which is the focus of my book on homelessness, homeless people come to the library and read books, look for jobs, and do other productive activities. Some of them just come to fool around, though. The best we can do is give them the opportunity to improve themselves. As I point out in my book, two people in a similar situation handle their circumstances two different ways. Some move up, others don’t.  The homeless need a hand up, not just a hand out.  https://www.amazon.com/There-Are-Homeless-Buck-County/dp/172865209X/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=there%20are%20homeless%20in%20bucks%20county&qid=1555953133&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull&fbclid=IwAR3aZjxAIaNsBgqDuQOg1FdTQ3fqtanieKU4ZV_6POWqn5w8Gz80_C9Jn5Q 

Some of the guests who frequent the shared meals in Bucks County display their character when they put themselves first, display bad manners and try to hog the food.  Most of them are not homeless, but in the “needy” category of the meals for the homeless and needy. Yes, these meals are for the homeless and needy; not the homeless and greedy! 

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? 7Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter- when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? 8Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.” Isaiah 58: 6-8 

Stand With The Homeless

To break the cycle of rampant homelessness is a point well taken in “Not Just A One Night Stand; Ministry With The Homeless” by John Flowers and Karen Vannoy.   

The authors argue to not just give a temporary fix to those who are homeless, but to associate with the homeless and to help people overcome hurdles to a “normal” life. They argue well that the church can help people better than government programs, where they are not just a number. The churches spend time getting to know the homeless.  

This is an issue I discuss in my book “There Are Homeless in Bucks County; A Journey With The Homeless.” https://www.amazon.com/There-Are-Homeless-Buck-County/dp/172865209X/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=there%20are%20homeless%20in%20bucks%20county&qid=1555953133&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull&fbclid=IwAR3aZjxAIaNsBgqDuQOg1FdTQ3fqtanieKU4ZV_6POWqn5w8Gz80_C9Jn5Q 

Although the authors argue the point of affectively ministering to the homeless, they kowtow to the mainstream mantra on the issues of alcohol abuse and “mental illness.”   They accept, wrongly, the decree of The American Medical Association, which recognized that “alcoholism” is a disease. They write that shelters make their guests pass a breathalyzer test before gaining entry to the shelter, which I think is a good idea. The authors write “The only option for the one who is homeless and suffers from the disease of alcoholism is to sleep outdoors.”  They add “American Medical Association recognized that alcoholism is a disease; therefore, we are criminalizing the behavior of someone who suffers from this disease and does not have a home.”   

The homeless shelter in Bucks County, PA has become a revolving door for drunks and druggies. Guests get thrown out for drinking, but they come back in again. And again, in some cases. 

Flowers and Vannoy argue that one third of any homeless population also suffers from untreated mental illness. First of all, “mental illness” is a misnomer perpetrated by secular psychologists. “Organic malfunctions affecting the brain that are caused by brain damage, tumors, gene inheritance, glandular or chemical disorders validly may be termed mental illnesses. But at the same time a vast number of other human problems have been classified as mental illnesses for which there is no evidence that they have been engendered by disease or illness at all,” wrote Biblical Counseling Movement founder Jay E Adams.  In his seminal book, Competent To Counsel, Dr. Adams challenged churches’ practice palming off people with problems to secular psychiatry and psychology.  

https://www.allaboutworldview.org/christian-psychology-and-mental-illness-faq.htm 

In the homeless population in Bucks County, which I focus on in my book, from observation over a period of a few years, I’ve concluded that about ten percent of the homeless, and also those in need whom I’ve seen regularly at the shared meals for the homeless and those in need, are really whacked out, and display serious anti-social behavior. We are all flawed; it’s just a matter of degree.  The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung related a story about a visit to an insane asylum with an “intelligent layman” who remarked that the inmates there were just like the rest of us, only their problems were greatly magnified. 

Recently, I started drinking Polar brand tonic water. Jokingly, I say I’m drinking “bi-polar tonic water.” Bi-polar is psychobabble for being double minded.  Bi polar disorder is a spiritual problem and the way you are brought up fosters this problem: 

https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/what-does-the-bible-teach-about-bipolar-disorder/ 

What those who are homeless need is for Christians to reach out, let them know that they have value as a human being and encouragement and a hand up to get them out of homelessness.