Blending The Homeless In

Blending in with the neighborhood is one of the nice things about Kenton Woman’s Village, a well designed community for the homeless set in an established residential community. The village doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb. Unlike many places who don’t want the homeless in their neighborhood, most of the neighbors welcome the residents of the village. In fact, they helped build it.  

http://www.kgw.com/news/the-path-from-dignity-village-to-the-new-kenton-womens-village/448100699 

The village consists of clean lined tiny homes, designed by local architectural firms. Catholic Charities operate the village under contract with the county. Residents have to pass a background check and have a case worker through Catholic Charities. 

The goal of the community is to work towards permanent housing. There is security 24/7 and a full-time manager. Funny, one of the reasons the president of The Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) in Bucks County, PA poo-pooed my proposal to join the non-profit another guy and I were trying to launch in our effort to provide more housing for the homeless was that 24/7 security would be needed. 

Across the river in Burlington Township, New Jersey, homeless advocates, Citizens Serving The Homeless, have drawn up a plan, made a drawing of the proposed community.  The neighbors were very hostile at the meeting the homeless advocates held this past February. This did not deter the advocates. They are pressing on and even hired a lawyer to help pave the way for the homeless community.  

Like the Kenton Women’s Village, the Burlington project’s goal is to give the homeless a hand up and help them become self-sufficient and will provide mentoring. 

The biggest hurdle to jump to create housing for the homeless is accepting the homeless, welcoming them into the community. People should get to know the homeless, and not base their attitudes on stereotypes. Maybe if they get to know them, know all about them, they may like them. Picture the homeless, an association of homeless people, have a slogan: “Don’t talk about us; talk with us.” 

I’ve talked with and hung out with the homeless in Bucks County, PA. I’ve read books, searched stories and opinions about the homeless on the Internet and have divined that they are not the walking dead, they are not all panhandlers, druggies, thieves, drunks, violent. Certainly some are. One reason people are prejudice against the homeless is that, although they may be spread out like tribes, they are a group that have in common just being homeless.  

Some of the tribes are hostile, mainly with each other and on some occasions, most often driven by booze, with non-homeless people who come to community meals. Some tribes act like the schoolboys in The Lord of The Flies, where they attack others in the group. Recently in Bucks county two women ganged up on another woman. Reminds me of what Ann Coulter wrote about the barbaric Celts in her book Mugged, that the women were more brutal than the men. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_the_Flies 

When homeless people ape the characters in the novel, the community, which in many cases already have some deep-seated stereotypes of the homeless, will not warm up to them. 

The Women’s Kenton homeless village does background checks as will the Citizens Serving The Homeless for their homeless community. As is the case with any complex, people need to be screened to ensure peace and civility in the community.  Civilized, not anti-social behavior is the key to helping the homeless as is understanding them and getting to know people as individuals. We can overcome homelessness. 

“If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you. Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you.”   -Leviticus 25:35-36 

Thy Will Be Done

Camping at Sandi’s bedside at the nursing home, watching her helplessly lie in bed, sleeping much of the time, struggling to give her drink with a straw and solid food with a spoon, is causing me to reflect more on life. I’m coming to grips accepting the fact that she’s dying.  There are few precious moments when she smiles, converses, and sometimes even jokes, with her own brand of humor. 

Although I’ve been helping Sandi, she’s given me much. She’s admonished me when I’ve expressed sinful anger at people who wronged me. When I started gloating over someone who hurt me having a difficult time, she reminded me “they are people.”   

Inside I’ve been screaming. Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream doesn’t seem to express my angst about what’s happening.     Man at bridge holding head with hands and screaming

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Scream 

The Serenity Prayer helps comfort me: 

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.” 

My problem, my dilemma, is that I want the world as I would have it. In the 2 ½ years I’ve known Sandi, I’ve become very attached to her. Seeing her lying here, now sleeping, I’ve forgotten what a pain she can be sometimes, and how I wanted to get rid of her and how I took her for granite. This is a game changer! 

I ask “why”! I then realize that we will not always know why, but in faith remember that God works all things together for good for those who love the Lord. I have, however, realized some good in this situation.  People at the nursing home are amazed, touched that someone would stand by a loved one this much in this situation.  Jesus is reflected. God continues to teach me compassion for others, to put myself in their shoes. 

What I can change, is Sandi’s attitude. As our pastor told me, it’s good that she knows she’s loved. During this last health episode, when I asked her, Sandi said “Jesus is in my heart.”

Sandi was part of a population that is forgotten by society, especially in Bucks County, PA – the homeless. They do not contribute to the surface glitter of those hung up in personal peace and prosperity. As Detective Frank Thorn shouts as he’s taken away in the sci-fi movie Soylent Green, “Soylent Green is people!”, the homeless are people. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soylent_Green 

http://www.imdb.com/videoplayer/vi2020082969 

People have intrinsic value; we are made in the image of God, who breathed life into us. 

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.… -Genesis 1: 26-28 

Selfless Not Selfies

Seeing Sandi suddenly take a turn for the worse put life into perspective.  There were times when I was angry, frustrated and feeling slighted by not having personal desires met. It makes me look at things differently when I see her struggling to get up, eat and drink. Finding the truth does this. For the longest time, I thought her chronic tiredness was mainly a result of her bad attitude.

That may have been part of it, but I learned, after she finished the more body draining chemo and after a year of less damaging Opdivo and after she just kept getting increasingly tired and uncooperative, it was the brain cancer.  She was diagnosed with lung cancer which also metastasized to the liver.

Brain was the first cancer treated when I took Sandi to ER after she felt like a hatchet was going through her head and spilled coffee at Code Blue, didn’t go in to eat with me in the morning, started taking her coat off after we got out of the car in freezing weather, threw up in the Levittown, PA public library and became very disoriented.

After the brain tumor was treated, and Sandi survived, except for minor problems, such as short-term memory loss, heavy chemo removed the rest of the cancer. It came back in the liver, but a year’s Opdivo treatment zapped the liver cancer, as if Packman was eating it.

Whew! I thought we were home free. But then a dramatic downfall. The cancer doctor explained that the brain cancer had been creeping back in, and now this seemingly sudden change. Awhile back she was walking on her own, going to community meals and to church with me. She got too tired to go any more and ended up having to use a walker. We did manage to visit relatives, one who had a lovable pit bull whom Sandi just loved. A few weeks ago, it took an hour or so to get her out of the car after seeing the doctor.  If it wasn’t for a good Samaritan, I don’t know what I would have done!

She was just one of many people who wander around Bucks County, PA who have no home to go to.

Seeing her now sleeping in a bed in a nursing home, nearly helpless, reminds me that people have intrinsic value, made in the image of God. We only have value because God created us from the clay of the earth and breathed life into us. Any gifts, skills God gives us is not for our own self-aggrandizement, but to be like Him and serve others.

For me, it’s a struggle to accept something like this happening to someone close to me. The Serenity Prayer comes to mind:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.”

Even when people create their own problems, we should still care about them. This doesn’t, of course, mean we enable destructive behavior. Not only would the enabling hurt society, but it also doesn’t help the person who engages in destructive behavior.

Do not snitch is a mentality found among the homeless community in Bucks County. The mentality is driven by the idea that you want to keep the peace and that people who report a criminal act are causing trouble. How about the victim? Hummmmm?

Recently, a drunken homeless woman suckered another homeless woman because she was allegedly running her mouth about someone being busted for drinking. If, as may be the case, the woman was not just talking about someone who is hurting others in the group, as was the case when a homeless guy who kept coming to meals drunk and causing problems, she had no business with the neh neh-neh neh neh verbalization of what happened. I can understand someone who is affected being angry about it, but the neh neh-neh neh neh remarks were not directly connected to the assailant. Maybe not directly, but the attacker may have taken this as a personal affront on people who get drunk.

This is similar to the written attack about a comment I made on someone’s Facebook page about a celebrity coming out of the closet and announcing he’s “gay”. I wrote “I wish these queers would stay in the closet.”  My detractors whined that I was affecting many people. Evidently, they thought that “being gay is OK.” Instead of defending my right to my opinion on her FB page, my FB and casual friend in real life told the politically correct Nazis “Jeff knows better.” I unfriended her on FB and in the real world. I have no plans to beat her up.

No matter what the reason, attacking people because you don’t like what they say lowers a person to the status of a wild animal! It also sends a poor message to the establishment. I heard that the authorities are not exactly going out of their way to bring the assailant to justice. I’ve compared the way the homeless are treated to the way blacks were treated during the Jim Crow South.

I remember seeing a movie about rock and roll legend Richard Penniman, aka Little Richard. His father was murdered by another black man. One of the characters said that “the police don’t care when one ni**** kills another ni****. ” This very well may be the case with this recent assault on a homeless woman by another homeless woman.

The Bucks County establishment thinks that homeless people are a bunch of drunks, thugs, druggies, thieves…, or as the old popular song goes “gypsies, tramps and thieves.”  Attacking each other, according to the elites, is simply what homeless people do. Wrong! Your status in life does not define you! You don’t have to believe, as Curly of The Three Stooges says, “I’m a victim of soy cum stances!”

https://www.bing.com/search?q=gypsies+tramps+and+thieves+song&FORM=EDGNCT

“As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another” -Proverbs 27:17

Overcoming Obstacles

Funding Woes Hurt Homeless reads a newspaper headline I referenced in recent blogs and argued that the cuts to Bucks County’s useless Mental Health Hustler programs is not what hurts the homeless.

Hobophobia, the irrational fear of the homeless is the main reason there is not sufficient housing for the homeless in Bucks County, PA. Because of attitude towards the homeless, not only will the county government not adequately provide homeless housing, but it interferes with private efforts to provide homeless housing.

Bucks County should follow the example of Pedro Opeka, who encouraged impoverished people in Madagascar to build good communities from  a dump, where once he taught them, they became educated and also built their own community. They didn’t build their city on rock and roll but by motivation and hard work.

A formerly homeless guy in Bucks County told me he spoke with a businessman who had planned to create housing for the homeless. When the establishment found out the project was for the homeless, it was nixed! I’ve heard from other sources that, although there is more property in Bucks County than homeless people, when caring people tried to make plans to use it for the homeless, they got shut down faster than The Little Old Lady from Pasadena shuts down anyone who races her.

Awhile back, when I asked Bucks County Commissioner Diane Marseglia to consider a plan to create homeless housing on county land, she poo-pooed the idea and said that it would jeopardize county assisted housing opportunities. There is a one to two year wait. My idea, like Priest Pedro’s, is to let the homeless build and maintain the community, as is the case with Dignity Village in Portland, Oregon.

https://dignityvillage.org/

In Bucks County, the consensus is that people, especially the homeless, are not able to do what the villagers did in Madagascar. And as I’ve argued, Bucks County just uses the homeless so it can keep them out of public view as much as possible and put them out to pasture and tap into public funds.

Even the local Salvation Army, the organization which historically has gone against the grain in order to help restore down and out people, goes along with the establishment in order to get along. People’s actions there show that they are hobophobic. The boss, Major (Casper) Milquetoast will not lay down the law. Likewise, for The (alleged) Advocates for The Homeless and Those in need (AHTN),  rules are no rules.

Two homeless people, whom I believe were drunk and I believe took the AHTN bus, went to a recent community meal. They were both loud, especially one of them. When a host on the serving line asked me how I was doing, I responded, “OK. I’m a caregiver and it’s nice to get out once in awhile.” One of them slurred “are you in a tent or a home?” I ignored him. Louder, he repeated the question. “What does it matter?,” I replied. He said that I was in a home and added that he doesn’t like it when someone with a home says he’s going to go out. That whine was totally irrational and uncalled for. Smacks of jealousy and PMS (poor me syndrome). He later got into a loud argument with another guest.

If the jealous tent dweller would get off the bottle, change his attitude and do something more constructive he may get out of his tent. I know of a few homeless people who did! They got a good attitude, didn’t engage in or listen to malicious gossip, went out of their way to find work, and moved on up!

Problem homeless people contribute to homophobia. Unfortunately, people judge all homeless people based on a few rotten apples.

Just as blacks overcame discrimination, oppression during the Jim Crow south, the homeless can overcome prejudice against the homeless and other obstacles.

Excuse making and blame shifting are major reasons the drug abuse epidemic is getting worse. When you see it for what it is, it’s as comical as an episode on the sit com Good Times, when JJ got busted for having a wild party. When confronted, he explained that some people broke into the family apartment “and forced us to party with them.”

“Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.”
Ben Carson, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

The doc has the right prescription for overcoming obstacles!

There You Go Again!

When an opponent of Ronald Reagan repeated a nonsensical statement, Reagan would reply “There you go again!” Likewise, to the government of Bucks County, PA I say “There you go again!”

This weekend marked the last Stand Down, an event for homeless and needy veterans, which has been held on county administered land behind the public library in Levittown, PA.

Bucks County “won’t be inviting Stand Down, an annual effort to provide needed services and support to ‘positively change the lives of the areas homeless veterans and their families,’ to return to the old Bucks County-owned Thiokol property near the Levittown Library in Bristol Township for 2017” said a county spokesman and Stand Down organizers, as reported in LevittownNow.com.

“The reason for the move was not immediately made clear to Stand Down organizers,” the article continues. Really?

http://levittownnow.com/2016/09/10/program-helps-veterans-need-kicks-off-last-year-current-site/

The answer is really “because we said so.” As per the attitude towards the homeless in general in Bucks County, anyone whose status in life doesn’t match the vision of a perfect suburban soccer mom society shakes up the establishment’s bourgeois world.

The Bucks County establishment doesn’t want the homeless in the Levittown public library or at the nearby veteran’s memorial, both open to the public, simply because they are homeless, even when they are following the rules.

So why should homeless and needy veterans be any different? There they go again!

This year, Stand Down was not publicized. Maybe this is a way to constructively push away something people don’t like.

Surprisingly, when I commented about the lack of publicity on the Delaware Valley Vietnam Veterans Facebook page, I was met with hostility. People were very defensive and snapped that I shouldn’t say anything on their page about the matter but take it up with the Stand Down organizers. They practically took my head off! The organization removed my post. When I asked why and challenged their reasoning, I was told I had insulted their organization and was disrespectful.

Dr. Ben Carson was right on target when he said that today, with political correctness, people are afraid to express an opinion for fear someone may not just debate an issue, but try to destroy them. This is not American. This is not why veterans wore a uniform.  This evidently is the case with the Delaware Valley Vietnam Veterans. One of them tried to spin what they did and said they were just maintaining their page. As comedian Pat Paulsen used to say, “bull feathers!”

I am not going to just sit down and shut up! I plan to continue, on my own venue, to spout off my grassroots big mouth.

I’m thinking that if this space on Bucks County land was for an event for illegal aliens or Muslim refugees, the recipients would be more welcomed than the veterans. And planes with banners would fly overhead weeks ahead to advertise. White Toyota pickup trucks would drive through neighborhoods with loudspeakers to announce the event.

Not “welcoming” Stand Down back reflects the liberal attitude of the elites, like President BO and Shrillery-Killery Clinton who don’t believe they have to explain themselves and be held accountable. They say “what does it matter” and make up the rules as they go along. They also make things up to get us off their backs.

Public land, by the way, belongs to we the people. We just lend authority to the government to administer the land. We are the ultimate landlords.

“The righteous care about justice for the poor,
but the wicked have no such concern. ” -Proverbs 29:7