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 

Not In My Back Yard!

It seems that anywhere a place for the homeless to stay is proposed, there is resistance, even outcry against it. This happens in Bucks County, PA, where there is so much resistance that people don’t even try anymore, across the river in Burlington Township, NJ, where advocates are fighting to create a homeless community, and in other parts of the country.

At a meeting the Citizens Serving The Homeless in Burlington Township in February, someone in the audience asked the panel why they couldn’t build homeless housing in another particular community. The answer was that they were turned down. Instead of being compassionate about nobody wanting the homeless, his response implied “see, so then why do you want to dump the homeless on us!”

The plight of the homeless is like that of Snoopy, the dog in the Charles Brown cartoon. Wherever he went, there was a sign “no dogs allowed” accompanied by a voice over narrator announcing “no dogs allowed.”  

Image result for snoopy charles schulz no dogs allowed

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snoopy,_Come_Home

In lower Bucks County, PA, there are about 100 recovery houses in neighborhoods. Consequently, crime rose. Druggies are allowed to live in neighborhoods while the homeless are blackballed everywhere! Up county there are no recovery houses. Do gooder liberals there say they care but that’s what it is – just talk! Just as liberals are very generous with other people’s money, they are generous with other people’s neighborhoods.

I’ve noticed that resistance to the homeless is greatest in progressive areas, where there are more homeless people than in more conservative areas (wonder why), and where many people don’t want the homeless in their back yard.

Recently, in San Jose, California, a blue, progressive state, city leaders slashed the proposal to have 99 sites slated for homeless communities with tiny houses down to four! http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/08/20/after-backlash-san-jose-reduces-number-of-tiny-homes-sites-for-homeless/

Even someone who said she’s compassionate for the homeless and even volunteers at a homeless shelter said she didn’t want the homeless in her back yard because it would decrease property values. Someone at the meeting with neighbors in Burlington Township, NJ expressed this same concern.  In California and New Jersey neighbors expressed concern about drugs and violence.  In New Jersey, neighbors also fear homeless people rifling through trash cans and panhandling.

The owner of a restaurant that the proposed New Jersey housing project would be next to wants to nip the project in the bud but said “The only way we would feel comfortable with this is if they guarantee that the people coming in here were not criminals or drug addicts or alcoholics.”

https://burlingtontownshipsun.com/nonprofit-seeks-to-build-homeless-housing-in-burlington-township-c1881e031a3d

Assuring the community that homeless people moving into housing will not be a problem is a legitimate concern. What is needed, in New Jersey as elsewhere, is a conversation between the neighbors and the homeless and their advocates. The February meeting was more of an argument, where neighbors at the meeting tried to force their will/views on others. A conversation takes place when both sides want to hear the other’s side and at least try to understand where they are coming from. As the pastor of the church I attend explained, an argument is about “me”; a conversation is about “us.”

Instead of imagining who the homeless are, based on media reports and images of Skid Row, people should get to know the homeless. “Don’t talk about us, talk with us” – homeless slogan. Maybe the nervous neighbors in Burlington Township should actually talk with the homeless and get to know them. I’ve been getting to know the homeless in lower Bucks County, PA over the past 3 ½ years. Some of them are a public problem, such as drunks and druggies, but certainly not all of them!

For sure, the folks moving into the Burlington County housing community need to be thoroughly checked out. Citizens Serving the Homeless get referrals from agencies, neighbors and churches to find candidates for the housing units. All applicants will go through an application process and a background check. No one under Megan’s Law will be permitted to live in the units, said the Citizens Serving the Homeless president.

Neighbors in Burlington County, NJ should get to know the local homeless, as should be the case in other communities. Don’t be like them or like the Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) in Bucks County, PA, where AHTN sponsored a video that used actors and a “script” to portray the homeless. Citizens Serving the Homeless in Jersey interviewed all the local homeless who were willing to be interviewed on video.

One thing the homeless in Burlington Township have going for them is advocates who stand by them and stick with a project to house the homeless. In June, Citizens Serving The Homeless hired a lawyer to, as it reads on their Facebook page “represent us in the negotiation with Burlington Township to be included in the Township’s Affordable Housing Plan being submitted for approval by the Superior Court in Mt. Holly that oversees all of the Affordable Housing Plans in Burlington County. This is the first step to getting our Community of Hope project approved at the local level…”

The homeless community is no different than other communities. Candidates for homeless housing should be screened the same way as people who apply for an apartment. To buy a house, you mainly need to go through financial, ability to pay hoops. Ever hear of a drug dealer or user moving into a neighborhood, or someone who uses dope? Huh? In Bucks County there are reports of drug dealers all the time and dopers, who are dropping like flies. They are not homeless.

The video of the Burlington Township homeless: http://citizensservingthehomeless.org/theirstories.html

Give Peace a Chance?

When he met with neighbors to address their concerns about plans to provide housing for the homeless, the pastor of the Church of The Nazarene in Burlington Township New Jersey said that he expected trouble from the community. He explained that he, his church and The Citizens to Help the Homeless, with whom he said the church has a covenant to build a homeless community, didn’t conceive the project because they wanted to start a fight, but to follow God’s mandate to help people in need.

But a fight is what they got!

The local homeless they talked with and videotaped  don’t have a home as a result of job loss, sickness, and other circumstances. Candidates for the housing will be screened, there will be a manager on duty for the community, and various services will be offered.

http://citizensservingthehomeless.org/theirstories.html

Yet, the recent meeting was full of popinjays, hostile to the plan to help the homeless. For those of you in Doylestown, a popinjay is “a person given to vain, pretentious displays and empty chatter.”  -Bill O’ Reilly

Image result for popinjay

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” -Romans 12:18

Peace is not just the absence of conflict. It’s not just a feel good thought. In a yoga class I used to attend, the instructor lead a class mantra:

May the long time sun
Shine upon you,
All love surround you,
And the pure light within you
Guide your way on.”

Lofty feelings, but there’s no basis for finding fulfillment, true peace through the mantra. That is unless you find it by worshipping the sun. Sun worshippers often end up with wrinkly, scaly skin. Seriously, these thoughts, though lovely, are empty. As a recovering Romantic, I see the vanity in wishful thinking and following a hot, but inanimate, object.

The popinjays rudely squawked at the meeting as the panel tried to honestly and candidly address the concerns of neighbors having homeless people moving into their neighborhood.  Peace is not achieved by just writing them off  as being “just the way they are.” They are wrong! They claim the homeless are druggies – despite the fact that they will be screened – and that the homeless are going to endanger their community, lower property values, and tie up ambulance services. They say the homeless are going to rummage through dumpsters and panhandle, to mention a few phobias.

Lions and Tigers and Bears, OH MY! http://citizensservingthehomeless.org/myths.html

In Burlington Township, New Jersey, the community doesn’t want the homeless to move into their neighborhood. Well, judging by the behavior of the concerned citizens who spoke at the meeting, for them I can’t echo Mr. Rogers’ sediments and cheerfully say “I’d like to have a neighbor – just like you so…”

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”  -Luke 6:31

If the people who selfishly demand the homeless not move into housing in their neighborhood were homeless themselves, I would think that they would have a different attitude if they were in their shoes!

The uproar, discord with the neighbors of the planned homeless community is just something those who want to help the homeless have to deal with. Your circumstances, your personal peace and prosperity needs to take a back seat to serving God and our fellow human beings.

God is the source of peace.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Galatians 5:22-23

 

 

 

Here They Come To Save The Day!

Like Mighty Mouse, HERE THEY COME TO SAVE THE DAY. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdIev12fCPs  After being homeless for only three years, with bouts of sickness and anxiety (surprising for a homeless person to have), “Bristol Organizations Help Homeless Man Find Permanent Housing” reads the headline on LevittownNow.com.  http://levittownnow.com/2017/02/19/bristol-organizations-help-homeless-man-find-permanent-shelter/

When I saw the headline, I thought maybe Bucks County started taking the homeless problem seriously; maybe people on this side of the Delaware River read reports about the Citizens Serving the Homeless in Burlington County New Jersey. CSH is working on creating a homeless community to house people who simply need a home because of job loss, sickness, or other reasons that are not a threat to the community, unlike the druggie refugees from the inordinate amount of recovery houses in the vicinity of Levittown, PA.

Brian, the homeless man, who drove trucks and said he can do any work with heavy equipment, trucks and forklifts, was helped in part by the Bucks County Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program and by helping him get social security, section 8 housing, and disability income. Alan Johnson, a Bucks County Mental Health Hustler, reports the article, helped Brian, saying “I helped keep his name and face alive.” Awhile back, Alan offered me disability with the promise of housing if I agreed to be labeled as being so messed up mentally that I could no longer work. As I told him, that would be fraud. It’s also a quid pro quo. For those of you in Doylestown, a quid pro quo is “a favor or advantage granted or expected in return for something.”

Going through a job loss and losing my house, etc., I was experiencing problems, but I certainly wasn’t ready to be put out to pasture. Likewise, Brian is not disabled! He has some good skills and didn’t suffer any permanent injuries or illnesses,

The rapid response team got Brian permanent housing after three years!

Brian was in the spotlight in an article on LevittownNow.com dated November 11, 2014. Yet just now he’s getting housing? Rapid rehousing? I wonder what their definition of “is” is?

Brian’s ailments are reported to have been a result of homelessness. Do you think?

http://levittownnow.com/2014/11/11/homeless-getting-evicted-from-woods-in-bristol-levittown/

There are people out there, like Brian,  who have been homeless for long periods. The woman quoted in the article almost died in the streets. About two years ago, I took her to the ER for a brain tumor. Doctors have told me that she got there in the nick of time. And no thanks to Bucks County, she is off the street. I also now have shelter and didn’t have to sell out and take advantage of the Mental Health Hustler’s offer to get housing by fraudulently claiming a mental disability, so the hustlers can get public funds for their programs.

Recently I became the woman’s official caregiver. She has lung cancer. If I had fallen for the Mental Health Hustler’s scam, I would not have been able to be her caregiver.

Homeless people are not hopeless. In many cases, they just need a hand up – a home. They don’t need no stinkin’ mental health or drug rehabs. Certainly not most of them! The church, Christian counsel, prayer and God’s Word does much better.

Once I looked closer at the article about Bristol organizations helping a homeless man find permanent shelter, I realized my initial reaction was a pure leap of unfounded optimism.

Bucks County is still in the dark ages with helping the homeless find homes. I thought maybe the county would be inspired by the Citizens Serving the Homeless, who, unlike Bucks County, is willing to suffer the slings and arrows shot at them by hobophobic ignoramuses and press on towards the goal of serving their fellow man who needs a hand up.

As I’ve said before, homeless people have intrinsic value, made in the image of God.

I am a Jew. Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands,
organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same
food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases,
heal’d by the same means, warm’d and cool’d by the same winter
and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If
you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, do we not revenge? If we are like you in the
rest, we will resemble you in that.” -from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice

Substitute “homeless” for “Jew” in the Shakespeare passage.

This is how we should serve our fellow humans:

http://citizensservingthehomeless.org/

 

And I Won’t Back Down!

In both Bucks County, PA and Burlington Township New Jersey, the homeless are collectively a persona non grata. The difference is that the non-profits in Bucks County kowtow to the hatred of the homeless and don’t want to fight for housing for the homeless but a New Jersey non-profit is taking a stance against those who want to keep the homeless from getting shelter like everyone else in their community.

Citizens Serving The Homeless, the New Jersey non-profit is facing members of the community who came out en masse to a meeting to talk candidly about their plans and allay the community’s fears. Instead, people came, figuratively, with torches and pitch forks. Unlike the non-profits in Bucks County, CSH not caving in to these hobophobic ignoramuses.  Their stance echoes the refrain in a Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers song: “AND I WON’T BACK DOWN.”

In Bucks County, The Advocates for The Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) doesn’t lift a finger to find long term shelter for the homeless. In fact, when I emailed the AHTN president to ask if AHTN would help the nascent non-profit a friend and I created to provide more shelter for the homeless, she responded that the project was impossible – that, for one thing, they’d have to provide security 24/7.

AHTN is not a true friend of the homeless. Just as liberals use blacks, “the children”, women, the poor, etc., the non-profit uses the homeless. At the video shoot for the so-called public service announcement for the homeless, actors were used. There was an attempt to keep the homeless away from where the video was shot that day. The pizza was purposely kept at another location for the crew, where the homeless could not have any, on a day there was no community meal.

CSH, by contrast, interviewed real homeless people in their community, interviewing all the homeless people they could for their video.

Unlike AHTN, CSH looks at the homeless as individuals and screens the homeless candidates for the homeless community it is building. For them, one size doesn’t fit all! AHTN views the homeless as all being morally bankrupt. They gave a pass to a homeless person who regularly came to a community meal drunk and disorderly, usually just slapping him on the wrist and on one occasion let him completely off the hook. He’s now in the Bucks County jail after knocking down another guest at a community meal, cutting the back of his head. Another guest called the police, but the culprit ran off, and was on the lamb for weeks until someone else called the police when he spotted him at the free laundry day, and the cops picked him up.

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

 

AHTN just pretended to help the homeless on one occasion when the head Levittown librarian ordered the security guy to cut the locks of bicycles parked in the bicycle rack because the librarian alleged that bikes were abandoned there. So even people who legally parked their bikes during library hours had their locks cut. The homeless complained to AHTN, who sent Christine to talk to the librarian about it. Christine reported back to the homeless and told them that the librarian said she made an announcement to have those who had their bikes parked legally to come out so their locks would not be cut. A reliable source told me that the librarian never made such an announcement, and he was there the whole time!

But when Christine’s pet and his girlfriend got caught having sex in the homeless bus stop one morning, she got them off the hook, but the rest of the group were punished by having the bus shelter removed and the stop moved to an unsheltered location in the middle of the parking lot.

Christine was the AHTN member I believe was instrumental in getting the homeless drunk off the hook when he loudly cursed out another guest and physically threatened him, where it took three men to pull him away. Christine and Dave (AHTN) went out of hearing range to the other corner of the room at the Redeemer Lutheran Church, Penndel, PA. The victim and I believe she lied about the victim, demonizing him with her false witness. The police came and told the victim the host said he had to leave. AHTN banned the victim, who was not homeless but needy, from the bus but not the homeless aggressor. The victim was banned from the meals but not the homeless perpetrator. The victim filed a law suit against AHTN and Redeemer Lutheran Church, which is going through the system.

The conventional wisdom of about the homeless is a caste system, where the homeless are trapped in their situation. For those of you in Doylestown, “A caste system is a class structure that is determined by birth. Loosely, it means that in some societies, if your parents are poor, you’re going to be poor, too.” -Vocabulary.com

Like the rabid community members who attended the meeting with the Citizens Serving the Homeless in Burlington Township, Bucks County see the homeless as monsters. They expressed their distaste for the homeless moving into their neighborhood. Well, after witnessing their behavior, I would not say to them, in the words of Mr. Rogers, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

The Salvation Army Levittown Community Center also sees the homeless as monsters. On one occasion, when I volunteered there in the food pantry, I guy who had been wandering a day or two on a hot day came into the pantry. We got him some food and drink. I told him I would take him to the library, where he can get the bus to the homeless meal and also have a more dedicated AHTN volunteer help him out when I finished for the day. As he was waiting, tired, frightened and flushed in the lobby, a Salvation Army staffer frantically confronted me and stammered “he can’t stay here!” I explained the situation and I took the homeless guy to the library.

At the Salvation Army Community meals, the hostess, Queen Latifah, treats the homeless like children and criminals.

The Citizens Serving the Homeless don’t see the homeless as being in a caste system, that they are always going to be homeless. They don’t subscribe to the mid Victorian attitude that as wealth grows so does good character, and that people with little money are immoral. They see homelessness as a season, and believe if given the chance, a homeless person will move forward. The goal of CSH is to give the homeless an opportunity by giving them a hand up and they may eventually move into traditional rental housing, like everybody else. The only difference with the homeless with the rest of society is they don’t have a dwelling.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable. Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself. ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a day and give a tenth of all I get.’

But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said ‘God have mercy on me, a sinner’.  

I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

-Luke 18: 9-14

Here are the stories the Citizens Serving the Homeless videotaped:

http://citizensservingthehomeless.org/theirstories.html

 

The Sky is Raining Homeless

Monday night,  I found out first hand that Bucks County, PA is not the only place that reeks with prejudice against the homeless. I left a meeting of the Citizens Serving the Homeless, held at the Church of The Nazarene in Burlington Township, NJ early after hearing a flood of judgmental, callous and bogus remarks about the homeless from neighbors near the site where the organization plans to house 60 homeless people.

The pastor of the Church of the Nazarene opened (after a prayer) with an explanation of the relationship between the church and the non-profit. He explained it as a “covenant” between two separate entities with the plan to help the homeless. In addition to helping the homeless with physical needs, the church will offer spiritual guidance, the pastor said.

The pastor explained that the property designated for the non-profit was vacant for more than 1 ½ years. After much prayer, fasting, and consulting with people inside and outside the church, the church decided it was God’s will and their Christian mission to help the homeless as the opportunity arose.

The goal of the plan is to help the homeless become self-sufficient.

The Citizens for the Homeless put on a presentation to show the kind of people who will be living in the housing, with testimonies from homeless people about why they became homeless. Some had had a major illness, suffered job loss, death of spouse, and other things that don’t make them career criminals, drunks or druggies. The opponents of the plan to help the homeless accused the homeless helpers of cherry picking the kind of people they showed they will be helping.

In their infinite wisdom – and they must be clairvoyant – the opponents assumed the people who would use the homeless housing were druggies. One presumptive twit said that the innocuous people who are out on the street only because they had nowhere else to go will not use the housing.

The consensus of the cacophonous crowd was that the people coming to the housing will endanger the community. One opponent asked what the CSH is going to do when most of the people use drugs and some of them will either revert to drugs or go back out on the street, as if this is a fact. So, like magic, the homeless shelter is now a drug rehab place. The underlying assumption is that the homeless are druggies, at least. These hobophobic (the irrational fear of the homeless) Chicken Little opponents were tone deaf to the statement that people will be screened before moving in and that there will be a manager on site 24/7.

The sky is falling! Raining homeless!

The homeless housing plan opponents arguments were specious. For those of you in Doylestown, “specious” means “superficially plausible, but actually wrong:

‘a specious argument’

 

It was evident that the opponents of the plan weren’t there to have an honest conversation but to just push their will on those who plan to help the homeless.  Many of the opponents were loud, interrupting the hosts, not even allowing them to fully answer questions they asked. Early on, when the pastor spoke, one particularly rude individual constantly tried to shout down the pastor.  The pastor explained that the meeting needs to have order and that the loud mouth (my words)  needed to be respectful, and told him to shut up and that he’ll have his turn to address the issue. At one point, the guy sitting next to me stood up and dressed the loud mouth down, telling him, in so many words, that he was out of order and that we needed to have a civil meeting.  When he sat down, the guy remarked to his wife “this isn’t a Republican meeting.” I quietly said “yes” and nodded in agreement.

It was typical Democrat debate. It was like watching the hearings for the folks that President Trump picked to serve us.

What was ironic is that the barbaric opponents of the plan labeled the homeless as miscreants, as they showed almost zero civility, respect for others. They didn’t see the homeless as human beings, after you cut through the smoke screen, but as a pestilence that they don’t want invading their back yard. Figuratively, they were carrying torches and pitch forks! They were rabid!

Tonight’s meeting reminded me of the contrast between a Christian world view and the wicked ways of the world. The church in this case sees the homeless as having intrinsic value, made in the image of God. The worldly views that they are not was abundantly evident tonight!

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. “

-Isaiah 58:6-8

For more information about The Citizens Serving the Homeless: http://citizensservingthehomeless.org/