Officials in Bucks County, Pennsylvania recognized in the late 80’s that the homeless problem was not restricted to Philadelphia but has fanned out to Bucks County. Today, especially in Lower Bucks County, the homeless problem has mushroomed. So much so that the only shelter, in Levittown, PA, has months long wait to get in. This shelter is temporary, and there’s a one to two year wait to get permanent county housing in Bucks.
Consequently, many people end up sleeping on sidewalks, their cars, and in tents.
In Bucks County there is more vacant property than there is more vacant property than homeless people. Caring people have tried to put these two together. For some reason, when people explored the idea of matching vacant property with the county’s homeless, they were stonewalled. One excuse or the other. Liability…
To help the homeless, Austin Texas created a 27 acre village.
How does it help? Father Nathan Monk explains:
“Actually, 44% of the homeless are employed. There are many others of the 56% who bring in some income due to retirement, disability, etc. The particular units were designed to deal with the single chronic population, meaning individuals who have been homeless for a year or more. It doesn’t mean they can’t afford anything, it just means they can’t afford to pay the average rent. Yes, there is Section 8 Housing and that does meet a certain need, these tiny homes meet another need. I don’t know all the ins and outs of this particular program, but I’m certain that there are also ways to accommodate those who can’t afford this particular rent. I think the overall point of this meme is to show how cheap tiny house living can be and that it is a uniquely viable option for addressing chronic homelessness.”
The homeless village fills in the gaps for people who can’t afford a home. Here human ingenuity is able to meet a humanitarian need. People whose only problem is that they can’t afford housing can have a place to call home.
Similarily, Bill Levitt met the need for housing in the New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey tri state area back in the 1950’s. People who normally couldn’t afford a house could buy homes. Veterans returning from the Korean war needed a place to stay, as did others. Many people from the city moved out of apartments into Levittown homes.
Despite Bucks County historically stonewalling efforts to create more shelter for the homeless, there are people out there who are brainstorming ideas. There are some businessmen and others with the skills and heart to address the homeless problem in Bucks. We need to come together to find a solution to the homeless problems the way they did in other areas.
As is the case in Austin, Texas, there are many people in Bucks County, PA who can’t afford the market price for housing, and need a place they can afford to move into. Levittown targeted a lower middle class market. The economy is not as sound as it was in the 50’s. There is more unemployment and underemployment as our country has become an Obama Nation.
To meet this challenge, a friend and I have formulated a plan to meet housing needs in Bucks County. We have to overcome obstacles. One of them is hobophobia, which, for those of you in Doylestown, according to the Urban Dictionary is “The extreme and utter fear of hobos, or the homeless.”
For sure, there are thieves, druggies and panhandlers (mostly the druggies), drunks, nutcases, violent people and general troublemakers among the homeless population. But many homeless people are that way because of income. They may have lost their job suffered from a house fire or other tragedy and just can’t afford housing.
Here’s a report on the organization we’re starting, Gimmee Shelter for the Homeless:
We hope to work with others in the community to improve the lot of the homeless in Bucks County, PA.