“Any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee” — John Donne
A tragedy struck at a homeless camp early Sunday morning in Bristol Township, PA when a fire broke out in a motorhome at the camp, killing a 63 year old man. http://levittownnow.com/2016/02/21/homeless-man-killed-in-rv-fire/
The motorhome was donated to the residents of the homeless camp fall of 2014. About this time neighbors of the camp made complaints and the homeless campers were under threat of eviction. About a year later, the local district court ordered people out of the camp by early November, 2015. Concerned parties have filed an appeal.
The sword of Damocles is still hanging over their head.
Places for homeless people to go are constantly shrinking in lower Bucks County, PA. Even the emergency shelter in Levittown has a waiting list. I, like many others, were originally surprised to learn this.
It took me almost two years to figure out the main reason why shelter for the homeless is so hard to get. The main contributor is the local recovery houses, which number about 100! Druggies are piled in like cattle and they head out through the revolving door and end up in the emergency shelter, causing a waiting list and bringing crime and harassment of people who just need a place to stay.
Because the shelter is brimming with druggies, and to a lesser extent, drunks, people who fell on hard times who just need a place to stay end up on the street, scrounging to find a place to live. As in the popular musical, the hills may be alive with the sound of music, but the woods, shelters and streets are alive with the occupation of druggies, along with people who have become homeless not because of addictions or other social problems.
Druggies caused an eviction in the woods by the Levittown public library. Steve Long, Chief Bucks County Ranger, told me that this was a result of complaints about drug use and people with warrants. Syringes were found in the woods.
The Rangers circulated eviction notice fliers which included contacts for assistance, housing opportunities. Well, it takes a year or two to get aboard county assisted housing. The “assistance” offered no viable alternative to the woods.
The only other alternative is the nuthouse. Representatives from the Bucks County Health Department have been aggressively chasing homeless people to sign them up for mental health services, whether they need it or not, not to mention not having a choice where they go. I recently learned that some time ago, someone from the Bucks Health Department tried to bribe a homeless man to tell him where the homeless camps were located so he can Shanghai them.
I wouldn’t be surprised if these ambulance chasers from the health department show up at the homeless camp where Sunday morning’s fire occurred. This is the same department that wouldn’t let a homeless woman with COPD sit in the WIC building in Levittown during business hours to get warm until the library opened.
All the State’s Horses and all the state’s men will not put homeless lives back together again. When I say “state”, I mean the government. As President Ronald Reagan said “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”
As a result of the federal government pushing and protecting recovery houses in lower Bucks County, PA, crime has gone up with the release of the Frankenstein-Druggie monsters on the community. Lately, the PA government is trying to find ways to clean up the abuses of the recovery houses. http://levittownnow.com/2016/02/16/head-of-pa-department-of-drug-and-alcohol-programs-speaks-about-certified-recovery-houses/
We’ll see how well this works. It’s a good idea to look into fixing the recovery houses, but I am skeptical, even if the problem of stuffing people into rooms like a flop house, poorly trained counselors and other problems are resolved, this may not be the best solution, even if a voluntary certification program is put into place. Voluntary certification is a step in the right direction, however.
The problem is who certifies.
Homeless people with addictions or mental issues, like homeless people without addictions or mental problems, should have a choice, and not just be tossed into the official place and the official time for help. The recovery houses have just resulted in monsters being released into the community, and people who have just become homeless are put on hold for a year or two to get housing.
Penndel Mental Health Center is becoming, by fiat, the official treatment center for mental health in lower Bucks County, PA, whether people need their services or not. For drug addicts, the only thing that will change at the center is the legality of their drug use. Legal drugs is the sine qua non at Penndel Mental Health Center. They use drugs to control behavior. Isn’t that what druggies do on the street? They take drugs to feel better?
About two years ago I was a mess with anxiety and depression. I was introduced to someone from Penndel Mental Health who asked, first off, if I would be willing to take prescription drugs. I ended up as an outpatient at Penndel and was prescribed Paxil, which made my anxiety worse. I also started seeing a therapist at the same time. At one point, I stopped taking the Paxil, and the therapist told me I’m not supposed to get therapy without taking drugs.
Soon after, I also stopped the therapy with Penndel Mental Health and cut all ties with the institution.
The Cognitive Therapy used at Penndel, however, was a good model, a methodology for sorting out problems. The patient just has to fill in the blanks. In a nutshell, cognitive therapy tries to get the patient to think the right things in order to control behavior. The behavior that results from an idea is evaluated and then the patient thinks about how he can change his thinking to improve his life.
I’ve had to learn to do the right things by doing the wrong things. Now, I use God as a guide to control my thinking and behavior. After returning to God, I still had to reevaluate my thinking based on behavior. There was a homeless woman I spent time with whom I got very close to — even thought I was in love with. Someone thought I could help her with her drinking problem because I don’t have a drug or alcohol addiction and that we were both educated. She would get me to read books which we’d discuss and we’d have interesting conversations about literature, art, and other matters.
Like Robert Palmer, I was addicted to love. I’m still in recovery.
But the woman, like a dog returns to its vomit, returned to her drinking. She went to the dark side, being insulting, rude, and even tried to steal my cell phone. She also stole from others, almost everywhere she went. I kept thinking she would turn around and that our relationship would flourish. Wrong! Trying to steal my cell phone was the final straw.
There were two other woman I had a romantic interest in. They both seemed to have a negative outlook on life – certainly not the Christian view — were manipulative and harbored anger, resentment. One of them misused prescription drugs and the other street drugs. I’ve started to get my anger/resentment under control, thanks be to my faith in God. Getting into a close relationship with either of them would spell disaster; I’d be dragged down with them.
One of them kept asking me to be her errand boy and I’ve just kept my distance from the other. Whenever the latter sees me, she talks sweet to me and hugs and kisses me and we hold hands. Like Odysseus, I then steer away from the Siren to prevent disaster.
There are alternatives to the recovery houses and Penndel Mental Health Center. Gaudenzia treatment center, one of which is in lower Bucks County, is one option. It is faith based and the patients’ loved ones are part of the treatment. On visiting days, loved ones meet with staff to discuss problems. People I know have gone there for short term treatment. Gaudenzia has the sense to send the patients far away for long term treatment.
The recovery houses in lower Bucks County, PA have a revolving door, where the druggies are in and out of the homes, back on the street in an area where they know where they can find drugs. Originally, the druggies have come from different parts of the country and, by fiat, use the recovery houses as a way station on route to continue their addictions.
“No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.”
There are many hurting homeless people out on the street, struggling just to find a place to live. They need caring people to help them in different ways. Finding more shelter for them is a long term goal, a tough one for me and others to achieve. Meanwhile, we can feed their bodies and their souls.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, individuals and churches have reached out to the homeless. At the community meals, the hosts sit down with their guests and develop relationships. At one of the meals, a host talked one on one with a guy with an addiction problem who ended up at Gaudenzia. When I saw him there he told me he realizes that he needs to take treatment for his addiction seriously and needs to stay the course.
I told the guy who talked with the man who ministered to the man at a community meal about this. This was good news for him, as he didn’t know what he was doing since he saw him last.
“Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”