Where Are Your Real Friends?

“When you’re down and troubled and need a helping hand”, as Carole King sang, is when you need a friend. When a friend in the homeless and needy community needed help clearing his possessions out of the house that he sold when he was in the hospital, just four people, all 60-ish, came out to take it out of the house and put it in a safe place. It was a tiring task and these true friends were there for him.

https://www.bing.com/search?q=you%27ve+got+a+friend+carole+king&form=EDNTHT&mkt=en-us&httpsmsn=1&refig=bb3bda72dfc941d9a35dd1d9d2ada77b&sp=7&qs=AS&pq=you%27ve+got+a+frien&sk=LS4AS2&sc=8-18&cvid=bb3bda72dfc941d9a35dd1d9d2ada77b&cc=US&setlang=en-US

Over the years, the gracious home owner let homeless people crash at his house for a night or two, free of charge. He also hosted a cook out, even providing the food for the folks who showed up. He also had a deadbeat stay over who, not only welched on the rent, but stole from him. One homeless guy who paid, bailed out before they had to be out of the house, not lifting a finger to help clear the house, but just stopping by at the 11th hour, literally at 11 p.m. one night after others were busing their butts to clear out the house, only to pick up his stuff.

There were other “friends” who took advantage of the guy, one particularly egregious one known as “The Animal.” The animal and her malignant mob damaged the house and stole from the host. They resemble the lowlifes in the movie Trading Places who partied with the homeless street hustler (played by Eddie Murphy) who came into money and wrecked the place and split.

As was the case with The Little Red Hen, everybody wants to eat the bread but no one wants to help make it: https://youtu.be/Od6R3a33bro

The homeless and needy community need to help one another, bearing one another’s burdens. The liberal establishment in Bucks County, PA helps the homeless basically for what they can get out of them. In previous blogs, I related how mercenary and condescending people are towards the homeless, particularly politicians and institutions who say they care for and aim to help the homeless. Talk is cheap!

Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it all alone.” -Numbers 11:17

It’s up to us to help each other! On many occasions, this was the case in this community of people who have fallen behind in life, both financially and with personal problems.

People have encouraged others when they were going through a rough time, giving moral support, finding out for them how to do things, and in this case, physically helping out. A true friend of the guy who lost his home has been leading the house clearing, acting as a liaison, and working many days to help.

In Buck’s homeless and needy community, there are people going through struggles, with drug, alcohol and other problems. Besides each other, caring people have reached out to the homeless, bringing them food, clothing, and giving them moral support. Churches that host the community meals have offered physical and spiritual food and acceptance, understanding.

Pick your friends wisely! True friends are those who are committed to being there for you through thick and thin. And a true friend sometimes has to practice tough love, not just enabling bad behavior, even when the person he’s trying to help becomes hostile and making enabling destructive behavior a condition of friendship. There are those out there who do enable destructive, even criminal behavior (not mentioning any names, as I’ve already blogged about them) for expediency, sometimes just to artificially make peace and sometimes just for their own self-aggrandizement.

We need to work together, like the homeless characters in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” -Ecclesiastes 4:12

 

What is an Advocate? What is “is”?

Words mean something.  Although the Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) in Bucks County, PA  transports the homeless to meals and helps them with various services, they are not advocates.

Merriam-Webster defines “advocate”:

  • A person who argues for or supports a cause or policy
  • A person who works for a cause or group
  • A person who argues for the cause of another person in a court of law

Back in April, when Bucks County conducted a search and destroy mission to completely evict the homeless from the whole government center complex and surrounding woods in Levittown, there was a chance meeting between veterans, homeless residents, and volunteers at the Veterans Memorial in the complex. http://levittownnow.com/2016/04/30/county-officials-begin-to-clear-homeless-camps/

The only ones who spoke up for the homeless were the homeless themselves, volunteers, and Morris Derry, President of No More Pain Inc. AHTN had nothing to say during the homeless evictions there, or anywhere. Awhile ago, I asked the president of AHTN to help a friend and I with our quest to provide more shelter for the homeless, but she blew it off, saying that 24/7 security would be needed.

Getting past the demagoguery of the homeless, one of the veterans suggested finding a building to help those without permanent homes.  There is a lack of shelter for the homeless; there’s nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, baby!

Speaking as an advocate for the homeless, Morris said “I understand what their (the county) concerns are, but I really don’t think their dealing with it the right way.” A notice was posted for the homeless to vacate the area with an alleged solution to the homeless housing problem, a phone number promising, like the promise to the Okies in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath of a better life in California, for housing assistance.

“I called the phone number on the signs and there is no more room in the shelters,” Morris said.

Leaders in the homeless community, have been exploring options for shelter, as has been individual homeless people, who have limited resources.

With all its resources, Bucks County wastes its efforts by striving to get the homeless out of site, out of mind, instead of working on adequate solutions.

One solution, perhaps the final one, is to get the homeless off the streets by signing them up with taxpayer funded Bucks County mental health services. Like manure, Bucks County nuthouse representatives are all over the place, at code blues, tent city evictions, the library… As the Sword of Damocles was hanging over the heads of the homeless before the memorial eviction, predators from the Bucks County health industry flocked to the memorial, clipboards in hand and badges hung around their necks, trying to shanghai the homeless into their programs by baiting them with housing opportunities.

In concert with Bucks County’s view of the homeless, the mental health hustlers scheme to put them into a program, where the homeless become wards of they state, where they not only don’t get better – they get worse. They don’t strive to give the homeless a hand up so they can be productive members of society, but just want to sedate them with drugs and psychobabble. They have written the homeless off.

One ploy these charlatans use is to con homeless people to go on social security disability by saying they are mentally disabled. Bucks County official Alan Johnson, who has made frequent appearances wherever he can find his homeless prey, offered me housing in exchange for me submitting to being labeled as being so mentally messed up that I could never work.

In contrast to the Bucks County establishment’s view of the homeless, local churches have been accepting the homeless unconditionally, as created in the image of God. The status as being homeless does not define them.

Instead, like Evangelist in John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, they point the homeless to Jesus, who is the ultimate advocate for everyone.

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that you sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” -1st John 2:1.

Here on earth, the homeless need an advocate. This is where Christians come in. They need to advocate for the homeless. Instead of sucking up to the Bucks County establishment, like some officials from the  Salvation Army Levittown Community center do, for example The Countess of Carlisle who thinks it’s OK to rid the library of the homeless just because people don’t like them, Christians need to stand up for the homeless.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” –2nd Corinthians 5:20.

Down But Not Out

Rick Proudfoot was an electrician. Because of the economy, he couldn’t find work and became homeless. He ended up sleeping in city parks; the penalty for which is $300 or 30 days in jail.

But this was only for a season. Somehow he found his way to Dignity Village, an official homeless community in Portland, Oregon. For two years now, he’s been CEO of the self-funded, self managed, and self governed community.

Lisa Larson was on the street for two years, camping on sidewalks and sleeping in abandoned buildings. While serving time in jail with her husband for chronically violating the ban against homeless camping in Milwaukie, Oregon, another homeless person told her about Dignity Village. Today she’s the village’s chief executive officer and the official spokesperson for Dignity Village.

Unlike Curly of The Three Stooges, you don’t have to be a victim of circumstances. You can get out of that place, if it’s the last thing you ever do and make a better life.

The moral of the story is not to write off people who are down and out. Homeless people have the potential to improve their lot.

People in Bucks County, PA should learn a lesson from these success stories. Here in Bucks, the homeless are often written off a never-do-wells, and the establishment just wants to keep them down. The conventional wisdom is that the average homeless person is a mental case, druggie or drunk. People who frequent the library want them removed without cause. On one occasion a county official said that people were not comfortable visiting the nearby Veterans Memorial when the homeless are there.

There certainly are some mental cases in the group. I’ve gathered that at least two of them who attend the community meals are complete nutcases. And there are a few drunks and druggies. The druggies are generally refugees from the local recovery houses that the feds have pushed on the community in lower Bucks County. There are about 100 of them just in Levittown, PA. The biggest thing the homeless are hooked on is tobacco.

The homeless in Bucks County are fair game for the mental health industry, whose hustlers aggressively canvas the homeless community to sign them up for their services and use taxpayer funds. When I was on a quest for housing, Alan Johnson, now with Bucks County Family Services, said he’d find housing for me if I was willing to write myself off as being so messed up mentally I could not work the rest of my life. He’s made that offer to others.

Alan once told me that he doesn’t subscribe to housing first. He said that people have to get straight before they move into a residence. This presupposes that all homeless people are dysfunctional. I vehemently disagree!

Many of the homeless in lower Bucks County work, some sporadically, some somewhat regularly. One guy, for example, one of the “library people” is a professional homeless person. He quit jobs because he doesn’t want to work but just wants handouts and to play video games in the library all day. Many of the homeless, however, are serious about working. At one of the community meals I overheard a conversation between two homeless guys who have been working sporadically. They agreed that they want to get into a work routine.

Some homeless people have gotten good jobs and are living like everyone else.

If they are willing, homeless people can change their circumstances, given the opportunity. Even those who abuse drugs and alcohol can change. It’s good that churches in the area are reaching out to the homeless and not just helping them with physical needs; they help them with their problems. At one community meal, one of the hosts ministered to a guy with a drug problem, one on one. Sometime after that, I saw him at a temporary treatment center. He realized the seriousness of the problem and told me he is determined to persevere with treatment. I believe he moved on to a longer term treatment center.

Another guy recently returned to the community and got clean. At one of the community meals a host announced that he was going to give his testimony.

Ultimately, it’s God who can deliver people, no matter what the problem, if you let Him.

“The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him.”

–Nahum 1:7

Industry Not Pest Control

Instead of writing the homeless off as useless bums, encourage them and help them to better themselves.

Unfortunately, some members of the homeless community make a bad name for the homeless, and the public puts a one size fits all label on them.

For sure, there are problem people among the homeless – the druggies, the drunks, people with mental problems.  Recently, I experienced an example of people who have the gimmees. This reflects an attitude in this country, as particularly exemplified in Bernie Sanders, et al, that people are entitled to what others have.

I picked up a formerly homeless friend at a bus stop and a woman who had just become homeless who was talking to him, waiting for the bus. I dropped the man off at Walmart and took her to the Oxford Valley Mall. She wanted to stop at the nearby Salvation Clothing Store, so I waited for her at the mall while I ate lunch. She also wanted to stop at a church and gave me the impression she was going there for help with her homeless problem. Instead, it was a quixotic quest. At one point, she got on the phone and told a friend that I would drive her to his place, which was on the other side of town.

I refused (she hadn’t even asked me).

I told the woman that she could get clothes free at some of the community dinners. “I don’t like what they have,” she quipped. When she got her change when she checked out at the Salvation Army, she asked the clerk what date was on a penny. I preempted the woman as the clerk went for her reading glasses, telling her we have to get going in order to take her to the bus that will take her to a free meal.

She begged me to drive her to the meal because “I want to be there when the doors open.” I firmly told her that I would take her to the free bus. I did. When we got there I pointed out where people pick up the bus, as we drove by waiting people. She said she wanted to go into the nearby library.

I reminded her about the bus stop.

I met the guy I dropped off at Walmart at the library and took him to the meal. I left the woman on the ash heap of history.

Other homeless people, however, don’t think they are entitled to the services of others, including the guy I dropped off at Walmart. When it snowed this winter, some homeless people found work shoveling snow.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city worker has been offering homeless people work cleaning up the city and offered food, shelter, and other services for their efforts.

This is the kind of thing we need in Bucks County, PA.

Given the opportunity, homeless people will work. I overheard a conversation at a community meal between two homeless people about working. They both were working sporadically. One of them said he wants to get into a routine.

Some homeless people have done volunteer work and go to the library to further their education. I’ve seen homeless people reading books outside of the library. On a few occasions, they were discussing Shakespeare.

Since I started hanging around the homeless two years ago, some of them have found work and have moved on. Recently, a homeless friend got a job in another state.

There are other ways the homeless can help themselves. The public library in Levittown, PA offers a chair yoga class. After having lived in my car a few months, I started stiffening up. My feet swelled. The yoga class helped me get the knots out, helped me relax, and even helped keep internal organs healthy. Kava tea also helped relax my muscles.

In Bucks County, finding shelter is the biggest problem. The “emergency” shelter has a months long waiting list, and it takes a year or two to get county assisted housing.

By offering homeless people work, they can save up for housing. Still, some people have a hard time getting the money for housing and they could use some help.

Housing first is a good idea. Yesterday I read a piece on Facebook where an advocate championed housing first. The only part of the advocate’s plan I question is the idea of putting people with addictions and other mental health problems in housing first. The advocate’s plan is to provide housing for all homeless people and link them with the services they require.

Some problems don’t require institutionalization. It’s a matter of degree. The druggies from the recovery houses in Levittown, however,  should be sequestered in a place as is the case of insane asylums. The 12 Steps program talks about addictions as “insanity.” The druggies are unleashed on the community during the day where they create problems. A security guard was added to the library as a result.

Refugees from the recovery houses join the ranks of the homeless in lower Bucks County and end up in the woods and the emergency shelter. Between them and the drunks who go through the revolving door at the shelter, there is overcrowding.

Some homeless, even those who need extra help should get into housing first and get the services they need. Besides getting regular work, they can get into programs to help them. As the guy I picked up at the bus stop says “we all have baggage.”

Churches and church related have stepped up to the plate. The hosts at the community meals have been developing relationship with their guest and mentor them. The 12 Steps Journey program is offered at two different churches in Bucks County, one on Tuesday nights and one on Thursday nights.

http://www.12stepjourney.com/ 

In many areas, such as Bucks County, the homeless are unwanted and are harassed. They are humans made in the image of God, yet people treat them like pestilence. As I illustrated in previous blogs, they are discriminated against in places such as the public library in Levittown. One several occasions, the Bucks County guard from the municipal building has tried to shoo homeless people from the Veteran’s Memorial, although they were following the rules.

On one occasion, the guard said that some people who wanted to visit the memorial “feel uncomfortable” going to the memorial with the homeless people there. A standard ploy he has used is that the county commissioners are coming and they need to skedaddle. Really?

Another guy and I came up with the idea of having the homeless fix up and manage vacant property in Bucks County, in the spirit of the Homestead Act of 1862.  http://www.timespub.com/2015/04/30/working-for-a-place-to-stay/ 

A homeless friend who expressed interest in this project suggested that we filter people who need shelter. We would direct people with addictions and other major problems to the proper place, and direct other people to a place that simply provides shelter. I like the idea.

This is a compromise between the view of the advocate who doesn’t want any filtering for housing and the view of an official who is with the Bucks County Health Department. This official flatly said that housing first is a bad idea. He thinks that every homeless person should go to a place to get straight before getting housing. This presupposes that all homeless people have such serious issues that they are not fit for a residence.

The official offered me housing in exchange for me allowing myself to be labeled incurable, that I was so messed up mentally, disabled, that I was unable to work the rest of my life. I turned him down and told him that this would be fraud.

The advocate ignores the fact that there are some homeless people who need to be institutionalized before getting housing. No housing first for them.

One size doesn’t fit all. We need to give the homeless an opportunity to help themselves.