The Only Thing Necessary

Just as a salvo was fired in the cultural war with the recent election, people who genuinely care about the homeless have been pushing back against the elites in Bucks County, PA who don’t want to hold homeless people accountable for their behavior. Although at the district court today the case against members of the Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN), the Redeemer Lutheran Church and an individual church member was dismissed, no only is the fight in court not over but it sent a message that good people will not just do nothing when a wrong is committed.

A default judgment against T-Rex, the homeless drunk who started the problem when he verbally and physically attacked the victim who filed the suit in district court and others was entered, and moved to the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas. T-Rex remains in the Bucks County Prison.

The Only Thing Necessary for Evil to Triumph?

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke

 

The travesty that occurred at Redeemer Lutheran was influenced by false witness, a spark that was ignited by a formerly homeless woman who spread lies about the victim. She told people in the homeless community that the guy was a sexual predator. When I started looking after a sick homeless woman, she told her to watch out for me because I “grab homeless women”, implying that I exploit them. When we used to hang out at a fast food restaurant, she tried to get my friend to sit with her – “with the girls” on the other side of the restaurant.

The gossip also told me to keep from friend away from the victim of her lies, because he is a predator.

There were also rumors that the victim of T-Rex betrayed the locations where homeless people were camping. One such area, behind the Levittown Public Library and the Homeless Shelter, was cleared out, according to Chief Bucks County Ranger Steve Long, because of drug use and warrants against people camping in the woods. Another homeless eviction where the victim was accused of “ratting out” the homeless also has no basis in fact.  LevittownNow.com reported that neighbors in that area had been complaining about the homeless in those woods.

http://levittownnow.com/2014/11/27/homeless-struggle-in-camp-behind-businesses/

Sometime after the news report T-Rex’s victim, who was at a district court for another reason, sat in on a hearing about evicting the homeless from the woods behind Michael’s Carpet.

At that fateful community meal at Redeemer Lutheran, http://redeemerlutheranpenndel.org/ the guy talked with some friends about the pending eviction, and mentioned that the RV, that was allegedly donated, was calling unwanted attention to the homeless camp. T-Rex, who was sitting a few seats away, who was clearly drunk, made snarky remarks. “What kind of a life do you have,” T-Rex snarled, “that you go to court hearings?”

At one point T-Rex started cursing at the victim. Noticing my look of disapproval, T-Rex threatened to jump over the table and beat me up. “Don’t look at me like that!”, he demanded.

A woman who was there with her husband, politely but firmly told T-Rex “you are spoiling my dinner.”

“I don’t care; f*** you”, T-Rex snapped.

T-Rex closed in and started lunging at the man, who was civilly talking with friends. A few men at Redeemer Lutheran had to physically restrain T-Rex.  As one man was retraining the reptile with a record, T-Rex snarled “who do you think you are? Don’t touch me!”

At one point, T-Rex was ushered to the opposite end of the big room, accompanied by Christine and Dave from AHTN. The police came. Nobody asked the victim or anyone sitting at his table what happened. But the police told the victim he had to leave immediately, because the host, whose members talked with Christine, said he had to leave.

The victim was banned from the bus “for his own protection.” Yet T-Rex was not.

There was also gossip circulating among the homeless community that the victim was bad mouthing the homeless. This further inflamed the homeless community’s  Lynch mob mentality.

The next time the victim went to the community meal at Redeemer Lutheran, he was told he was banned. After pressing the host for the reason, he said it was that he was saying bad things about the homeless. Another church member who worked in the food pantry echoed these sediments.

I didn’t hear what Christine said to the host, but somehow Redeemer Lutheran got the idea that the victim was saying bad things about the homeless.

T-Rex continued to go to the meals at Redeemer Lutheran.

At a later community meal at another church, T-Rex came up behind me and yelled “keep my name off your f-ing blog!” AHTN members and some hosts were sitting at the table. Hearing this, Barbara from AHTN, who was in the dark about the dangerous monster, said that T-Rex should be banned from the bus.

He was.

For awhile, T-Rex acted civilly, but it didn’t last long.

He got banned for another two weeks.

The day he the ban was over, he acted up at another meal, this time knocking the man who filed charges against him, the church, and AHTN to the ground, and cut his head. Someone called the police. A homeless guy told the woman not to call the police.

T-Rex was captured after being on the run for weeks and landed in jail.

AHTN knew about T-Rex’s behavior for some time, but just kept slapping him on the wrist, not holding him accountable for his behavior, as did Redeemer Lutheran. By fiat, these institutions act like if you charge a homeless person with a crime you are going after all of them. Evidently, AHTN didn’t want to fall out of favor with the homeless Lynch mob, and the church went along with them, and created a scapegoat. By their actions, AHTN is keeping the homeless down, exactly where they want them, cattle that keeps them in business.

AHTN will not keep law and order in the homeless community, so Marshal Matt Dillon came to town to stop the Lynch mob.

By not holding the homeless accountable for their behavior, the homeless will think that criminal behavior is acceptable. They are now finding that there are consequences for bad behavior.

What’s sad is that the homeless get hurt. Today, AHTN and Redeemer Lutheran were let off the hook but T-Rex was given a default judgment. He didn’t have the opportunity to defend himself. He was not given a certified civil complaint until Friday, hence he was not given enough time to respond, unlike the ones who helped enable his behavior, who had plenty of time to react and whose wrongdoing was not taken seriously by the district judge.

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him. —Proverbs 18:13

Go Your Own Way Not!

To resolve problems, people need to compromise. This is what a pastor and a homeless advocate is not doing in the saga of the conflict with neighbors and authorities over the homeless in Dover Delaware who have been staying on church grounds and want to build tiny houses there.

http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/Delaware-Dover-Church-Tiny-House-Neighbors-Controversy–392662151.html

Unlike the authorities in Bucks County, PA,, Kent County Delaware has offered the homeless a viable option. When a Kent County zoning official told the church pastor and an advocate about a site that had utilities set up and, unlike the church property, would be a legal homeless site, the pastor and the advocate cursed the woman out and insisted the homeless build the tiny houses on the church property.

http://delawarestatenews.net/opinion/letter-editor-not-fast-dovers-tiny-houses/

The homeless at the Delaware church don’t know how good they have it. When the authorities in Bucks County boot the homeless from an encampment, other than working to get a few of them in the so-called emergency homeless shelter in Levittown, PA, as was the case with a recent homeless eviction, Bucks County offers the evicted homeless nothing. Nothing! Alleged advocates from The Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) in Bucks also did nothing. When the press came and the homeless met with veterans from a local vets group on the eve of the “Veteran’s Memorial” eviction, AHTN didn’t get involved. At all!

In Portland, Oregon, after exposing the get-out-of-Dodge; we don’t care if you have nowhere to go policy (a term I just made up), through shopping cart parade protests, the authorities offered the homeless a compromise. Unlike the rabid pastor (probably a leftist) and the homeless advocate in Delaware, the Oregon homeless went with the offer. What was a relatively small group of homeless people sleeping under bridges, etc., became a homeless community with Tiny Houses. And the formerly homeless manage the place. Some of them have administrative positions in Dignity Village. The whole time they were moving on up from Dignity Camp, and now had the housing like the rest of us.

https://dignityvillage.org/

In Kent County, the homeless advocates give the homeless a free pass and do not hold them accountable for their behavior. In the summer, the police had to come to the church more than once because of noise, fighting, and other problems. As I said in my last blog, the pastor should evict the problem homeless from the property.

Likewise, homeless “advocates” in Bucks County have been lax in dealing with homeless people who act up, such as coming the community meals drunk and creating problems on the AHTN bus. It’s only because one of the guests who attends the community meals took action and at least one other advised the advocates to stop minimizing the problems, and also circumstance, that the problem is starting to be taken more seriously.

Bucks County has the get-out-of-Dodge; we don’t care if you have nowhere to go policy towards homeless encampments when they evict them.

A problem contributing to homeless housing is hobophobia, the irrational fear and distain for the homeless. Unfortunately, the Bucks County establishment doesn’t get to know, nor wants to know, the homeless as individuals. Consequently, they take a “one-size-fits-all” approach. People in the municipal building in the government complex in Levittown, PA bullied a county officer to rid the nearby veterans’ Memorial of the homeless because they feel uncomfortable visiting the memorial with homeless present.

The hobophobia carries over to getting housing for the homeless. A local businessman, for example, tried to acquire property to house the homeless. When the establishment discovered this was for the homeless, it stonewalled the project.

Some of the homeless likewise contribute to hobophobia, which, incidentally, is not tax deductible.

The Delaware pastor and the advocate, as well as some people here in Bucks County, are not helping the homeless by giving certain individuals a pass for bad behavior. For sure, some people have weaknesses and flaws, but the resulting behavior should not be overlooked.

We all have baggage. Those of us without sin should throw the first stone. None of us are, in Jesus’s day or today. Doing what’s right does not come naturally. We need God’s help to do what’s right. I realize I have a few things to work on in my life.

People need to want to be helped, as is the case with the homeless at the Delaware church. Not only do helpers need to set a good example and expect the same good behavior from the homeless as they do from everyone else, not writing them off as hopeless, but show God’s love towards them and gently, like an atomizer, get them on the right track, the Godly track, the train bound for glory.

“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

Ain’t Got No Home

“Ooh-ooh-ooh, ain’t got no home
A-no place to roam
Ain’t got no home
A-no place to roam”

-Lyrics from Clarence “Frogman” Henry’s Ain’t Got No Home

A solution to the homeless problem, here in Bucks County, PA, is largely stymied by the perception the public has of the homeless. On one occasion, some people said they felt uncomfortable visiting the Veterans Memorial in Levittown near the Levittown library because some homeless people were there.

They sometimes see some individuals in the group acting erratically and become leery of, prejudice against all homeless people. It’s guilt by association.

A major contributor of homeless stereotypes is the druggies who get mixed in with the homeless population, many from the local recovery houses, which number in the neighborhood of 100 just in Levittown, who create problems. On one occasion, when a new advocate was socializing with the homeless at the memorial, a crazed druggie approached and screamed at the crowd, asking what everybody was doing there.

Unlike much public perception of the homeless, the guard from the nearby municipal building can distinguish between the good homeless and the troublemakers. On one occasion, a homeless guy called the guard to the memorial when a jerk from the recovery house pulled an American flag out of the ground and placed in on his bicycle. The guard made the druggie put the flag back where he got it and kicked him out of the memorial.

Some members of the general homeless population don’t get with the program and work with the authorities. I was just reminded about a homeless guy who has been throwing trash in the woods which is still there, not completely out of sight.  It’s been there for more than a year!

I’ve noticed over the past few months that the homeless have been pushing the envelope at the memorial and surrounding area. They’ve been leaving their tents up during the day when the surrounding buildings were opened. Some of them have left cigarette butts in the area and trash on occasion. My beef, however, is the way the county is handing the problem, punishing everyone, even the innocent ones who don’t cause problems and just need a place to stay.

Doylestown made the decision to chase everyone out of the memorial. My problem is that the county judges everyone in the group based on a few bad apples.

Public perception is that homeless people have mental and addiction problems. The Bucks County mental health industry has exploited this and for years has been aggressively canvassing the homeless population for business, by hook or crook. In exchange for signing up and using their taxpayer funded assistance, the mental health hustlers offer the homeless, in a quid pro quo, housing.

That mental health treatment is a prerequisite for housing – as opposed to housing first – is reflected in a response to an email I sent to Bucks County Commissioner Diane Marseglia about finding housing for the homeless. The commissioner listed as a core problem “mental illness that is difficult to treat or people who are resistant in taking medication or attending counseling.”  She also listed alcohol and drug addiction as a core problem.   

To my idea of dedicating county land to open an official homeless camp for the homeless, where the homeless would do much of the work on the camp, she replied “That will not happen because there is too much liability. I also do not think that is helpful to the homeless. It just creates more space for them to avoid going to Housing Link and getting the referral, they need, to start getting sober/clean, on medication, in therapy, signed up for assistance or some type of work, and a solid roof over their head.”

For Diane Marseglia, one size fits all. She assumes that all homeless people need medication and therapy.

Family Promise of Lower Bucks, part of a national non profit organization that houses, feeds, and provides services for homeless families doesn’t subscribe to this philosophy, but instead houses people who just need a place to stay first and helps them get back on their feet.

There was a slogan during the early part of our country “Millions for defense but not a penny for tribute.” In Bucks County, PA, the slogan should read “Millions for addiction and mental health treatment but not a penny for housing first.”

The key to finding a place for the homeless to stay is the private sector. Bucks County government, which has a jaundiced view, has done an inadequate job of resolving the problem, which the county knew about since the late 80s. The problem with dealing with problems such as homelessness is that, like other things, is that we turned this task over to the government.

As President Ronald Reagan said:

“In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

Talk is Cheap

Talk is cheap.

Back last November,  Bristol businessman Joe Nocito, of Warming Hearts, said he was going to try to find people in a homeless camp in Bristol to “get them out of the cold and into shelters or apartments.”

Now, about a year later, homeless people feel as though the Sword of Damocles is hanging over their heads.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damocles

A funny, modern application of the old anecdote appeared in a Three Stooges short, but in this case it’s not funny.

In the Stooges short, a professor who bet another professor that environment determines behavior tried to turn the Stooges into gentlemen, by integrating them into high society.  In one scene,  Moe threw a pie up in the air that stuck on the ceiling, which started coming loose, ready to drop.

A high society lady collared Moe to ask him all about his “metamorphosis into…”.   The camera shows the pie about to fall, and Moe nervously excuses himself.  “Young man, you act as though the Sword of Damocles is hanging over your head,” the lady exclaims.

In this case, the “sword” drops on the lady, and starts a pie fight among the upper class after she throws the pieces of pie and hits someone.

Like Moe, many homeless people are nervous about the hanging sword. Rumors about who is responsible for people possibly soon being evicted from the site have been running through the homeless community like wildfire.

As reported last year in Levittown.now.com  http://levittownnow.com/2014/11/27/homeless-struggle-in-camp-behind-businesses/,  local advocates for the homeless said that as a result of complaints from neighbors, the homeless may be forced to move out.

About that time, Warming Hearts helped people who were evicted from camps move after they were evicted. There was talk that the day after Warming Hearts visited two homeless camps, the next day the tenants of the camps were evicted.   http://levittownnow.com/2014/11/11/homeless-getting-evicted-from-woods-in-bristol-levittown/ 

Warming Hearts helped the people evicted move to a new place. Word is that these places were not that good a place. The trick to find a suitable place to live is where it is dry, the surface level and relatively soft, away from thorns, and somewhat protected from wild animals and bugs.

Often the case is that the homeless find a place only to have to pack up and move.

In the words of Clarence “Frogman” Thomas

“Ain’t got no home
And no place to roam
Ain’t got no home
And no place to roam
I’m a lonely boy
I ain’t got a home…

Ooh ooh ooh
Ooh ooh ooh
Ooh ooh ooh…

I ain’t got a mother
I ain’t got a father
I ain’t got a sister
Not even a brother
I’m a lonely frog
I ain’t got a home

Oh, what you say to me?
Please say to me
Oh, what you say to me?
Please say to me
I’m a lonely frog
I ain’t got a home “

Ooh Ohh… is right.

The sword of Damocles is hanging over the homeless.

Bucks County has recognized the homeless problem since the late 80’s.  Last year, officials counted almost 500 people out on the streets.  Instead of constantly pushing the homeless out of places, we need to work together to really find suitable housing for them.

Part of the problem are some members of the homeless population.  A person I’m close to told me that the property owner where she camped booted her and others out of an area because they abused the privileges the owner graciously gave them.  Not just permission to stay there, but limited use of the services.  But some of the inhabitants helped themselves to too much and ruined it for everyone.

Homeless areas have been raided when the authorities are called in because they were after a criminal or created problems with the community.

In the case of the latest homeless community where people may be evicted, I noticed there is a good buffer from the neighborhood.  Rumors have been circulating among the homeless community like wildfire about who is to blame for a possible eviction.  An organization of interest is the Warming Hearts.  Also, the homeless may have done something to attract attention to themselves.

If the community accommodates responsible members of the homeless community, it can make things better for those without walls.  One example of this working is Dignity Village, which started as Dignity Camp, in Oregon.  Advocates started by getting the camping ban lifted, then worked with authorities to find a suitable place, and then a community for people who need a place to live, with amenities, was created.

Why can’t we do this in Bucks County?