Gimmee Shelter

Oh, a storm is threatening
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away

War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away
War, children, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away

-Lyrics from the Rolling Stone’s Gimmee Shelter

Today in places such as Bucks County, PA, people are saying “Gimmee shelter!”

Life for the homeless in Bucks County is stormy. There seems to be a war against the homeless. Despite the county having more vacant property than homeless people, nobody’s been able to put the two together.

Even if you have some money, it’s hard to get housing in lower Bucks County. It’s completely impossible if you have hardly two pennies to rub together.

Unofficial places for the homeless to go is steadily shrinking. In some cases, certain problem individuals have caused their places to be raided. In some cases, the good people could have done more to keep the problem people out. But this can be difficult, as the Bucks establishment subscribes to the one-size-fits all mentality, so in many cases even if problem people are reported, everyone is punished.

The homeless in lower Bucks often end up at the Bucks County Homeless Shelter in Levittown, where they may have to wait for months to get in, thanks largely to the Feds which has imposed an inordinate number of recovery houses on the lower Bucks community – some 100 of them. Instead of moving on up, the druggies continue their bad habits and end up in the so-called emergency shelter. The shelter is also a revolving door for drunks and other miscreants.

Consequently, relatively normal people are put at risk. One problem is theft. Also crazies disturbing them. Just last night some psycho was keeping people up well past midnight. The staff did nothing to stop this, yet a rogue ranger, Tom Booze, who volunteers at the shelter, is on a witch hunt, doing criminal checks, possibly illegally, and harasses the homeless at the shelter. One resident told me that when he walked past the rogue ranger, he noticed he had pulled up a birth certificate on the shelter’s computer screen.

In one case, Booze put his hands on one of the shelter residents for no reason, evidently to provoke him so he could call the police. He also accused a resident of being drunk without using a breathalyzer or a swab test.

This place is not a shelter from the storm. In fact, it is the storm!

The Bucks County Homeless Shelter is becoming a Lord of The Flies

A formerly homeless guy I met about 2 ½ years ago has become responsible, self sufficient. He has a job and can pay his own bills. He is getting his act together. There were some caring people who have helped him help himself.

We need to give all the homeless an opportunity to help themselves. Some succeed, some don’t. One size does not fit all. The homeless need a hand up, not a hand out.

The key to helping the homeless is caring people in the community, not the government. Unlike people who voluntarily come out to help the homeless with their physical and spiritual needs, the government isn’t very personable. The homeless, at least here in Bucks County, are written off as lost causes and treated as a commodity. For example, Alan Johnson, who works for the county, told me he doesn’t believe in housing first and added that people have to get straight first. He presupposes that they all need mental health services in order to get housing. In fact, he offered housing to me and others if we are willing to be labeled that we are so messed up that we cannot be a productive member of society.

Very few people in the homeless community need to be put away. The county health industry doesn’t really help people. I can think of two people who go to the community meals who need to be tucked away somewhere. Druggies and chronic drunks also need to be sequestered the way people in insane asylums centers are.  Their habits are a form of insanity. The 12 Steps program helps restore sanity.Step Two- Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Contrast the way caring people reach out to the homeless to the government’s modus operandi. First of all, private parties show unconditional love. Yesterday at the afternoon community meal, the guys at my table said they really appreciate the trouble that church goes to prepare good meals, and that they particularly appreciate the way the hosts treat them. Yesterday one of the hosts asked the guests what God did for them. One chirped that he got his job back. The host also talked about forgiveness, to which I noticed some guests were very attentive.

Awhile back, a host ministered, one on one to a guy who was nearly at the end of his rope with his drug problem. The guy ended up in a faith based short term drug treatment program. When I talked with him while visiting someone else at the treatment center, he told me he realizes the gravity of his problem and that he’s determined to take the program seriously.

These caring people are examples of the way we should care for people who need a hand up. Oh, did I say these were church people? The church needs to take back the mission that she relegated to the secular world, especially to a machine like government.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.”

-Proverbs 31:8

Please Friend Ant

The last time I visited a treatment place where a friend was being treated for alcoholism, a counselor told the visitors that they should not enable bad behavior. To my dismay, I learned that less than a week before he was finished the short term treatment, one morning he stormed out of a meeting and out of the center.

As I was in the library, soon to leave to grab a bite to eat before going to the 12 step program in Levittown, PA, I got a call from someone who asked if I could give the treatment center refugee a ride to a friend’s house. He had already started walking there.

I only said I’d wait for a return call because I thought I could take the guy with me to 12 steps. When I got the call, I was told he had turned his phone off and was asked if I could look for him. I was not about to hunt for this impetuous guy along New Falls Road in Levittown.

After I hung up, it dawned on me that had I picked the treatment center refugee up, I would be enabling him. Based on his history, he probably would have some excuse why he couldn’t go to the 12 steps that night.

A Salvation Army officer once told me about a guy who, for no reason, hitchhiked quite a distance from a Salvation Army center and ended up in Levittown. The officer was prepared to take the guy, who arbitrarily took off, back. But when he called the officer in charge of the center, he told the Levittown officer not to give him a ride — to let him get back the same way he came.

To give the runaway guy a ride back would send a message that there are no consequences for his actions. It would be like the ant, in Aesop’s classic fable, giving the grasshopper, who, instead of storing up food as the ant did for the winter, a handout.

It’s important to use discernment when helping others. A few years back, when I stopped at a Chinese restaurant, a woman offered to buy a panhandler a meal. The guy demanded money, making excuses why he wouldn’t accept the meal. The woman told him that’s her final offer. He became hostile, and then other people waiting in line chastised the man. The woman remarked “the Lord tells me to feed the hungry but not to” hand out money indiscriminately.

People today think they are entitled to what others have.

The Lord commands us to help the needy. He’s given us the heart to help others but also wisdom.

Someone just showed charity towards me, showing the true meaning of Christmas. As I went towards the register to pay for some milk, a guy heading the same way slowed down to let me go first and remarked “you are on a mission”. I replied that I had to get my girlfriend to chemotherapy. When I went to use food stamps, I found there were insufficient funds. As I fumbled through my cash, the guy, now behind me, offered to pay for the milk. I told him I had the money but he insisted, reasoning that I need to help somebody.

When you hear “please friend ant”, the best thing you can do is not accommodate the grasshopper. Maybe on some occasions you can cut people some slack and give them something to tide them over. For example, a homeless person returns to his tent drunk and rips it up. Maybe just giving him a tent one time is righteous, but with the stipulation that if he’s reckless again, he won’t be given another tent.

Someone who called into a talk show remarked that private charity is better than government handouts because individuals are better able to distinguish between the people truly in need and slackers.

In lower Bucks County, between food stamps, gracious people who give food and clothing for the needy there should be plenty of those needs met for the homeless. The problem is that some people sell some of their food stamps and use the money for cancer sticks, booze, and even drugs. The misuse of food stamps enables bad behavior.

Some time ago, a woman with lung cancer asked me to buy her cigarettes. Astonished, I told her “no,” and explained that that was not a necessity and that she’s not entitled.

BO has been called “the food stamp president.” A black woman on Glen Beck’s show remarked that BO practices “plantation politics” — “he’ll give us food stamps but will not give us the opportunity to help ourselves” by allowing parents to pick the best school when he eliminated school choice vouchers.

Private charity works better than government handouts because individuals can get to really know the people they are helping. Not only will they realize where the help is coming from — that it isn’t pennies from heaven — but people truly in need can get a hand up, and not just a hand out.

There’s a school of thought that helping the homeless, buying them tents and even giving them food is enabling them and, in the case of tents, aiding and abetting illegal camping. Well, the problem is many people legitimately don’t have anyplace to go. Unlike some areas, Bucks County, PA does not have sufficient shelter for the homeless.

Many people are homeless because of the economy. Rush Limbaugh said “Obama is doing to the economy what Godzilla did to Tokyo — he’s stomping all over it.” Likewise is our tax and spend Big Bad Wolf Governor in Pennsylvania, who also holds up production by banning harvesting, mining of resources on state lands.

The Big Bad Wolf may as well pass out pink slips and drag people out of their houses.  As was the case during FDR’s New Raw Deal and subsequent progressive reigns, there was gross poverty. During these times homelessness ran rampant. Greed, the misuse of capitalism created the Great Depression, but government programs exacerbated and prolonged it.

As President Ronald Reagan said, “Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.”

People need to learn responsibility.

Ah grasshopper, when you are ready to act more responsibly, you are ready to go out into the world and become a responsible member of society. My apologies Master Khan.