Don’t Talk About Us; Talk With Us

“Don’t talk About Us; Talk with Us.” – Slogan created by a group of homeless people.

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog about the homeless in Bucks County, PA, the raison d’être for noroomintheinn.org.  I was moved by other issues, so this blog site morphed into issues that were close to my heart at the time, and still are.

Since I started hanging out with the homeless in lower Bucks County early spring, 2014, I got to know them and was struck by the prejudice and lack of understanding of this segment of the population that most people know next to nothing about, including myself. Or at least I used to know nothing about. I’ve learned a lot about the homeless in the past few years.

Shortly after I started hanging with the homeless, I thought about writing a book about the homeless.  Now it’s close to coming to fruition.  I found a publisher, Vernita Simmons, though my writing on Faith Writers.com.  Vernita commented on an article I had written on the site about homelessness. She asked if I was an author. No, I told her, but that I want to write a book on homelessness. The rest is history.

Vernita read my electronic manuscript and liked it – said it was written right from the heart. She edited it and sent me a copy. I have to put the final touches on it, supply photos, etc.  I had to write different sections for the book, such as a book description, and an introduction, and together we are doing the administrative stuff, such as registering the book with the Library of Congress.

The book will come out in paperback and as an e-book.

Much of the book focuses on Sandi, who is the main particular in telling the story of the homeless in Bucks County. For almost three years she was my companion whom I took care of. Sandi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, which spread to the brain and liver, a few weeks after I started keeping company with her and took her to a local ER.  I’m dedicating the book to Sandi, who returned to the Lord on December 4, 2017.

In the book, “There are Homeless in Bucks County; A Journey with The Homeless”, as was the saying back in the 60s, I tell it like it is. I try to speak the truth in love about both the good and bad of people who say they want to help the homeless as well as about the homeless themselves. I do, however, have some fun in the book using satire, which I’m known to do.

In the book I simply share my experiences and opinions about the homeless and offer my ideas on how to handle the issue.

Movin’ On Up

It’s not exactly a deluxe apartment in the sky, but two formerly homeless families have moved into permanent homes thanks to Family Promise of Lower Bucks County and the volunteers who have helped them move on up.

This is how they do it!

Churches in lower Bucks County, PA take turns housing families. Unlike the Bucks County (alleged) emergency shelter, where there’s a waiting list to get into this flop house, or the local recovery flop houses, which have revolving doors with drunks and druggies going through, Family Promise participants are serious about finding their way out of homelessness. Family Promise screens their participants and doesn’t put up with any monkey business.

Family Promise takes the guests from the churches to a day center, where people can take care of business, such as laundry, send their kids to school, get job training, help searching for jobs, and counseling.

Part of a national organization, Family Promise moved into lower Bucks County early April, 2016.  Family Promise is a faith based organization that coordinates its efforts with churches to help homeless families get back on their feet. The organization helps families stay together and to improve their lots.

http://www.fplb.org/

People are homeless for different reasons. In some cases it’s a result of substance abuse, which has become an epidemic, especially in Bucks County. People are also homeless as a result of a job loss due to a poor economy which, although not as bad as it was during the late 20s and 30s, it’s still bad in our Obama Nation under progressive rule. But there’s a change a coming, as America has just said “no” to progressivism this election.

It’s Americans helping Americans, as is the case with Family Promise, that will resolve the homeless and the drug and alcohol problem. To resolve these problems, personal responsibility and achievement should be fostered.

Instead of handouts, people need to be given hand ups. Instead of writing off the homeless as never-do-wells and permanently giving them public assistance, putting people on disability without a good reason, and stashing them away in mental health clinics, they need encouragement to take on responsibility and find a decent job. The conventional wisdom of the Bucks County establishment is that most, if not all of homeless people have mental problems.

Homeless people certainly have problems, just as we all do, and being homeless is a strain. You don’t need no stinkin’ mental health clinic, such as the Penndel Mental Health Center, with their dope and psychobabble, to help people. What the homeless need is wise counsel and guidance, concern, and encouragement to do the right thing.

One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. The Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary decreed that drug abuse is not the fault of the user but is just a disease and not a result of a character flaw.  So we treat drug abuse the same way we treat the flu, and just give druggies a shot to cure them. With this view, people are just a bunch of organs and synapses passing electrical currents, like the monster Victor Frankenstein created. We are a special creation, created in the image of God, but not according to those who are full of psychobabble.

http://levittownnow.com/2016/11/29/surgeon-general-releases-first-report-addiction/

We are a special creation capable of moral judgments of right and wrong, and can take responsibility for our decisions. We have free will.

The best we can do for the homeless is give them the opportunity to help themselves.

“And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: [yea, though he be] a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee.”  — Leviticus 25:35-36

The Homeless Versus The Government

Homelessness in the United States started before The Great Depression, but it became much more common by 1929, the official start of The Great Depression.

During President Herbert Hoover’s reign, shanty towns, known as Hoovervilles, built by the homeless in his name mushroomed. Soon there were hundreds of them across the US in the 1930s, as the progressive policies continued under President FDR. Clustered close to soup kitchens, Hoovervilles were a collection of tents and small shacks on empty land.

Hoovervilles were not officially recognized by the authorities, and people were booted from private land. But as the homeless problem started getting out of hand, authorities looked the other way out of necessity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hooverville

In Bucks County, PA, the homeless problem was officially recognized in the late 80s.

As the homeless problem in Bucks rose to near epidemic proportions authorities sometimes looked the other way when people camped out on private and public land. But in the past year, they started clamping down on unofficial camping.  The latest major raid was at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Levittown, PA.   http://levittownnow.com/2016/04/30/county-officials-begin-to-clear-homeless-camps/

Part of the problem is the homeless themselves. Sometimes they create problems. For instance, there was a homeless encampment outside a Walmart, where a property owner let the homeless use electrical outlets just to charge their cell phones. But some of them abused the privilege. Some of them even ripped off copper tubing, most likely the druggies in the group. Consequently, they were booted.

The homeless are a microcosm of society, where some of them reflect the bad behavior of today’s society. As such, individuals in the homeless community should at least be given a chance.

Many of the homeless in Bucks County work and are decent people who play by the rules and many of them work, but don’t have enough money for a place or just can’t find one. The only time they break them, is when they have nowhere else to go and camp on private and public land. Public land, by the way, belongs to all of us.

My appeals to use public or vacant property in Bucks County, which is sufficient to accommodate the homeless, fell on deaf ears. When I proposed to a county commissioner an idea to use county land to set up official encampments, in the tradition of the homestead act of 1862, http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=31 where the homeless would build and maintain the encampment, she poo-pooed it and said that this would jeopardize their chances of getting into government assisted housing, which takes between one to two years to get into.

Back in the Great Depression, some men who lived in Hoovervilles who had construction skills built their houses out of stone.  Given some land, today’s homeless can do the same thing. One homeless friend excitedly told me his idea to build a wooden shelter that would house a few tents, with a  the wood burning stove in the middle and a vent for the stove. This never materialized, as the heat was on the homeless in the woods where he wanted to build it.

During the depression, the government set up shelters for the homeless, but they soon got filled up, especially in California, where they were hard to find. The Joads, the characters in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, illustrated this. The Joads briefly settled in a Hooverville (not quite a Holiday Inn) in California. The government shelters in Bucks County, PA likewise can’t keep up with the flow of the homeless, in large part to the explosion of recovery houses, some 100 of them in Levittown.

The economic causes of homelessness in modern America started in the late 19th century. Progressivism started as a spark in the late 1890s, when federal expenditures increased. Between Presidents Woodrow Wilson and FDR, the Republicans were progressives and the Democrats were conservatives. During that time, congress had more say that did the Presidents. The Republican party laid the intellectual groundwork for the growth of government in the 20th century.

The Republicans passed the Baton to the Democrats, and except when we had a reprieve with Truman and Kennedy, the Democrats have carried the progressive torch, burning the whole country.

The homeless are the canary in the mine. For those of you in Doylestown, this means that, as a canary is an advance warning for methane or carbon in a coal mine because the canary would die before the levels of the poisonous gases are hazardous to humans, homelessness is an early indicator of an unhealthy economy.

As I’ve said in a previous blog, a nation’s prosperity and its morality are intricately linked.

One of the obstacles for creating more shelter for the homeless is hobophobia. Even though the homeless are just a reflection of today’s society, the bad behavior of some homeless members prompts some people to think twice before helping them. The efforts concerned people who want to create more shelter for the homeless are stonewalled by the Bucks County government, fueled by intolerant, judgmental people.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12

For further reading (quite lengthy) http://object.cato.org/sites/cato.org/files/serials/files/cato-journal/1996/11/cj16n2-2.pdf

And of course, the Bible.

There is Promise for Homeless Families

Family Promise of Lower Bucks (FPLB), part of a nationwide organization that helps homeless families get back on their feet, makes its debut in lower Bucks County at their day center in Tullytown, PA, at 578 Main Street.

Churches in the area have reached out and will provide meals and shelter and Family Promise will transport the families to the day center in the mornings. Volunteers will be there for physical and moral support for homeless families.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” –1 Peter 4:10.

In the program, families will stay at the church in the evening and overnight. They will be taken to day centers each day, where they do their daily routines, look for jobs, get job training, and go to school or work.

http://www.fplb.org/what-we-do/

The program is designed for families who have undergone hardship and are serious about getting a home and becoming independent.

http://www.fplb.org/about-us/

FPLB is a good start in the much needed campaign to address homelessness in Bucks County.

It’s good to know that churches in the area are practicing their faith.

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”  –Matthew 25:40

You Can’t Hide from Homelessness

Homelessness is a national problem, not just confined to lower Bucks County, PA.  I just saw a documentary about a homeless encampment in Saint Louis, MO.  I found many similarities to the homeless story in Bucks County.

The documentary pointed out that in the encampment, there were druggies, thieves, muggers, drunks and other problem people, but many of the homeless were decent people, who had skills, such as carpentry. The documentary showed a guy cutting up wood with a chainsaw.

After a long drag out fight with authorities, the encampment was bulldozed, closed, after the authorities reasoned that they couldn’t just look the other way because of the problem people living there.

Recently, the woods by the Levittown Public Library, Bucks County Rangers served eviction notices, collapsed tents, and told people to get out. On the notices were “assistance” opportunities which allegedly would help the homeless find places. The housing opportunities were vacuous.  There’s a one to two year wait for housing.

One ranger threatened to bulldoze the woods, but that was just an idle threat from someone, upon first meeting him more than a year ago, whom I addressed as “Officer Fife.”

Another ranger helped a homeless man get into a treatment center for alcoholism, which he desperately needed. The man stormed out of the center before the short term stay was over and is now on the loose.  He’s been staying with friends and has been getting kicked out regularly. In fact, I just got a call from one of his friends who asked me to pick him up from a place he got kicked out of for the second time. I said “no,” and explained that I’m not going run out to bail him out every time he screws up. This would enable him.

See my last blog “Are You a Victim of Circumstances?”

In the documentary, after a homeless encampment was raided, he was moved to another area, which he said had worse living conditions than the place he left. About a year ago, two tent cities in lower Bucks County, PA were raided a day after Warming Hearts representatives visited the camps. Like the homeless camps in the documentary, the refugees were moved to a place not as good for human habitation than the place the were.

Someone from a faith-based organization in the documentary said that it’s important to spend time with the homeless, and not “just drop stuff off.”    The guy said that many people from these groups have developed relationships with the homeless. They can minister to them and find out who is naughty and who is nice. In either case, they can help the homeless and give them an opportunity to help themselves.

Like some of the homeless in lower Bucks County, PA, some of the homeless in the documentary just want to accumulate handouts and need to learn responsibility.

Some of the homeless in the documentary were given places to stay in for a year, until they can get back on their feet. At the end of the documentary, we’re told that many of these people were back out on the street. This was attributed to the economy.

I agree, the economy is at least part to blame for homelessness. I pointed this out in my earlier blog “Fight Homelessness; Don’t Vote for Progressives.”  Progressivism fosters irresponsibility, which creates more crime and poverty.

One problem with the homeless is some members of the homeless themselves. People of faith have been giving of their time and have showed concern about the homeless, counseling them, showing empathy and trying to show them the right path, which, as is the case for the rest of our decaying nation, is a result of Godlessness in our culture. It sometimes requires tough love, as is the case when certain homeless people want a bailout, like the auto industry.

There are people in the lower Bucks County community who have the where-with-all to create more housing for the homeless.  Part of the problem is that they have been stonewalled by the progressive Bucks County establishment. And part of that problem is that they are leery of having the homeless fixing up, maintaining and living on vacant property because of the actions of some of the homeless, as was shown in the documentary.

Housing first is a good idea, but people have to get their collective acts together and we need to liberate America from the liberals and foster self-sufficiency as we did during the Eisenhower 50’s, when we had a Christian consensus.

I’m getting tired and weary of trying to help  of people whom  don’t want to help themselves. Unlike myself, with my human flaws, God never gives up.