Wednesday, September 26, 2007
"What do they expect us to do, float in the air?"
The headline story "Homeless Smackdown in Golden Gate Park" explains how the SF Chronicle newspaper staff made it their business to drum up support for rousting the homeless out of their encampments in the park. While I'm all for not having them live in the park in those conditions, I'm dead-set against harassing them, and "legally" taking their scant possessions and tossing them from the park into the streets of the town. When these human beings are kicked out of the public park and onto the sidewalks, then ticketed and harassed for loitering on those sidewalks, its apparent (to anyone who thinks/cares), that they are squeezed out entirely.
From the story:
The articles also generated a flood of letters to the Chronicle's editorial pages. The majority of those who chose to provide their opinions on the matter via this particular bully pulpit were hostile to homeless people.... Few of the letter writers acknowledged the logic and anguished expressed by the homeless man who plaintively asked: "What do they expect us to do, float in the air?"Ah, that you could, dear friend.
What I really want is to establish a system of dormitory/ashram/hostel - style housing units (100 people/unit) where we can have ~four people to a room with:
- clean cots/beds/bunks
- decent inexpensive meals (accepting donations from restaurants and grocery stores)
- clean clothes (accepting donations from anyone)
- career counseling*
- mental health counseling*
- a health-care ombudsman*
- multi-faith-skilled chaplaincy*
- a computer room with Internet access (for email and education)
- massage therapy*
- vegetable gardens
To do this project to the scope that I want to see it happen (each community has one or more of these -- enough to accommodate the entirety of those without homes in the community) would be a herculean effort for an individual or small-scale institution, but I see "herculean" as relative. If all of the congregations in each community banded together to create something like this, it could be done. If the government would either 1) revitalize the department of HUD, or 2) stop taking inordinate amount of money from us for taxes for war so that parishioners and good secular people could put that money toward bettering their communities, it could be done.
With large-scale community support, or federal funding, or a sizable grant from a foundation, I think something like this could get off the ground. Ideally, the services provided at these locations would become community-wide services, and could be sponsored by (and available to) the local congregations, non-profit organizations, and even local corporations.
I've got a mesa boogie amp at home, it hardly. Ever. Talks.
The switch on my favorite microphone is almost. Always. Off.
chant/prayer/mantra: what was that bit Jesus was saying about "if God provides for these birds, how much more will He provide for you"? God might wanna be provident, but what about when the unkind people come and arrest you for trying to accept that providence?
they're doing things very very close to what you've listed here. and the city supports it.
2. That's a bit different vision than I had, and inspiring. I was thinking of it being in a more urban area, and more developed up. Some of the pictures there show very basic individual homes, cobbled together. The low-impact those homes would have on the environment are kind of arresting to my thinking, making me rethink.
3. Homeless people don't need a luxury place. They need a place to call their own, at least for a while, where they're safe from harassment by individuals and municipal agents. And where they are provided for (and can get access to resources sufficient enough that they can get a real leg up and provide for themselves).
4. I want to go visit that community and converse with the people there, whether we move to Portland eventually or not.
Just thought you would like to know that Quakers DO do ministers. It just depends on whether the meeting is a programmed one or an unprogrammed one.
It's a common misperception.