Another Homeless Hurdle

In my last blog, I wrote about building in front of the Bucks County Government Center at the edge of New Falls Road in Levittown, PA.  One project actually started construction, on the side of the Levittown-Fairless Hills Rescue Squad towards the Bucks County Technical School.  

A project to build affordable housing on the opposite side of the rescue squad, between the squad and the district justice building, is in the works, meeting resistance. The rescue squad owns the property. 

http://levittownnow.com/2019/06/24/58-unit-affordable-housing-project-proposed-for-2-7-acre-levittown-property/ 

Yesterday I had good conversations at the Bucks County Mutual Aid event held in the parking lot of the government center. Bucks County Mutual Aid is a grass-roots, volunteer organization where private citizens make donations to give clothing, food and water to needy people.  The volunteers have the gatherings once a month.  

The event was not just a matter of giving people things, but a place where people can discuss any matters they wish. It was informal; no programming, spontaneous. I discussed the reasons for homelessness, who the homeless are, obstacles, and possible solutions. Included in my talks with people was the affordable homeless project.  

One thing I brought out was that in some cases, individual homeless people create obstacles. People outside the community become prejudice based on the actions of some individuals, which is wrongheaded thinking!  One thing I agreed on with the Bucks County Mutual Aid leaders is the role of community, neighbor helping neighbor, and getting to know the homeless as individuals. As the slogan, coined by some homeless people, goes: “Don’t talk about us; talk with us.” 

I learned about the Bucks Mutual Aid event though a friend, who is one of the real-life characters in my book, which provides a realistic look at the homeless, based on my years of hanging with the homeless in Bucks County: “There Are Homeless in Bucks County; A Journey With The Homeless.”  My friend gave copies of my book to people associated with Bucks Mutual Aid.  At last month’s event, he told people there that the author may be there. I didn’t make it last time but I was part of the group yesterday. 

In my book, I offer constructive criticism and try to speak the truth in love. Both the homeless and the establishment need to change some of their ways. At the gathering, I was reminded of an obstacle to escaping homelessness: Smoking.  There were many chain-smoking fiends there, who sometimes smoked in close quarters to non-smokers. One person at the event smoked while getting food at the table!   

The homeless should be given an opportunity to work their way out of homelessness. It takes both the community and the individual homeless to have the right attitude and do the right thing. 

These are some of the things I address in the book: https://www.amazon.com/There-Are-Homeless-Buck-County/dp/172865209X/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=there%20are%20homeless%20in%20bucks%20county&qid=1555953133&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull&fbclid=IwAR3rVqO3lBAN-7f-EyYXkEWjQhEr_reZi1CHsXICDyQtHGIgxX92Dn4Dp4E 

This blog site was originally a result of a failed, nascent non-profit to provide housing for the homeless a friend and I started. We couldn’t get it off the ground. We found that those who had more resources than we had couldn’t create homeless housing either. Proposed projects were stonewalled. Realizing the main problem was prejudice against the homeless, we started the blogs to try to change the hearts and minds of the community, somewhat like Dr. Martin Luther King’s campaign.   

We shall overcome! 

Getting The Word Out About The Homeless

About five years ago, I started hanging out with the homeless in Bucks County. In November, 2018, I published a book about them. The book illustrates who the homeless really are and explains their challenges. I wanted to, as the 60s expression goes, tell it like it is. 

With the help of the librarian at the Levittown branch of the Bucks County Free Library, I made an online request to get my book in circulation in the library system. Recently, I was told that my request was rejected because there were no reviews, no promotion about it or something, etc. My book is registered in the Library of Congress. It is available on Amazon.com and other places. There are no really “official” promotions, just on Facebook and on a not too well-known listing. I got help publishing the book through an independent publisher Vernita (Neat) Simmons. I don’t have the funds to advertise the book through Amazon.com and other “official” sources.  

Update:  The book “There Are Homeless in Bucks County; A Journey with The Homeless” is available in the Bucks County Free Library System.

Before I made the online request to have my book in the Bucks collection so the homeless and others with limited resources could read the book (what libraries do), I gave a copy to a librarian at the Bristol branch of the Bucks library system (Grundy). I left my name and number. I checked in a couple times to check on the status of my book put into the library and was told someone would call me. One librarian said something about putting books in archives or something. 

I suspect the real reason for my book not being accepted into the Bucks library system is that the Bucks establishment doesn’t want anyone to tell it like it is, but follow the mainstream suburban fantasy mantra. 

This is my first book. I’m just a regular guy, who became homeless myself for a season and who has been associating with the local homeless.  My goal of the book is not only to show who the homeless really are, but to let people realize they don’t have to be stuck in their situation, that through hard work, perseverance, and God’s intervention, you can be delivered and can contribute to society, no matter where your talents lie. 

Who Are The Homeless? 

The homeless are a microcosm of society. They are not a homogeneous group. People in the same circumstances deal with being homeless differently, with some being successful, finding their way out of homelessness.  The book is replete with examples. 

There are different paradigms with organizations and individuals who help the homeless. There is a silent war between institutions that use secular psychology to help the homeless and churches and individual Christians. The book shows the value of the shared meals churches offer the homeless and those in need. There are more than meals. 

By spring, 2015, I became homeless with a homeless woman who soon was diagnosed with stage IV cancer. We teamed upshe joined me on my journey. She is a particular in the story of the homeless in Bucks county. 

Before I became homeless, I partnered with a friend in a quest to create a non-profit organization to find shelter for the homeless. The initiative floundered. Realizing the main problem with creating shelter for the homeless is prejudice against them, my partner set me up on a WordPress site to write blogs about the homeless.  The idea occurred early on to write a book about the homeless, but I needed someone to help me with the mechanics of publishing. Sometime later, a publishing consultant commented on my article on Faithwriters.com on the homeless. She asked me if I was an author. I replied I was not but wanted to publish a book on homelessness. The rest is history. 

There Are Homeless in Bucks County; A Journey With The Homeless is available on Amazon.com. 

https://www.amazon.com/There-Are-Homeless-Buck-County/dp/172865209X/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=there+are+homeless+in+bucks+county&qid=1555953133&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull 

Getting to Know You

Lately I’ve been watching the old Lone Ranger episodes in the morning. At the end of each episode, after The Lone Ranger and Tonto (not that Army ranger) save the day, someone asks “who is that masked man?”  The response: “Why, he’s the Lone Ranger”, says someone in the know. Today people don’t even bother to ask who the homeless are. The typical thinking is, he/she is a homeless person, spoken by someone not in the know. 

Until late winter/early spring 2014, I didn’t know who the homeless really are. But then I could honestly sing “getting to know you, getting to know all about you…” And I learned to like some of the homeless people I got to know.  Shortly before I became homeless myself, I got to know many of the homeless in lower Bucks County, PA.  

Who are the homeless?  The only difference between the homeless and the rest of the population is that they don’t have homes.  They are not akin to the Walking Dead.  We don’t see zombies walking aimlessly looking for people to eat when we enter homeless territory in the woods.  The members of the Bucks County establishment are the Morlocks and the people who vote them in are the walking brain dead. 

They are people like you and I who have had the misfortune of losing their homes, through job loss, fire (in an uninsured house) or for other reasons — in some cases a result of their own irresponsibility and sometimes as a result of a combination of causes beyond their control and irresponsibility. 

One organization that has the right approach, right attitude towards the homeless is the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission. Unfortunately, it’s thrift store in Penndel, PA, the same town whose name is part of the mental health charlatans, Penndel Mental Health Center, is closing. It’s closing so the Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission can better serve other needy people.

Don’t talk about us; talk with us – slogan coined by homeless people from the organization Picture The Homeless.  Homelessness does not define your character, but is just the particular situation you are in. The common denominator is that, as Clarence “Frogman” Henry sang, they “ain’t got no home.”   

As you’ll see in the video, some homeless people want help for legitimate needs while others want money for things that the not only need, but may be harmful or immoral. This is why it’s best to give the homeless things like food or medical supplies, blankets and not money, unless you’re sure. I’ve given homeless folks I know money to buy a meal at fast food places when we were there and saw them purchase food. That’s OK in my book. 

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=clarence+frogman+henry+aint+got+no+home+video&docid=608005915538293417&mid=EA51CB4DA3A1AFB7ECB1EA51CB4DA3A1AFB7ECB1&view=detail&FORM=VIRE 

The trick is, as a fellow volunteer at a food pantry told me when he knew I was hanging with the homeless, is to distinguish between who you can trust and who you can’t. I’ve learned to sort out the user-losers, who don’t want to help themselves, and the winners, who just want a hand up and who want to help themselves. I explore this in my book, based on my experience with the homeless in lower Bucks County and research. I also explore the prejudice against the homeless. 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/172865209X/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_U_.iX9BbZXM6842?fbclid=IwAR0gPVr_CAM7L0hyxu92hll8KTsLWTUmr1nIEamgTnuc_Hi4yDafBYGcMqs