White Poverty and Despair

It’s been awhile between posts. This has been a hard post for me to write. Mainly, I’ve had to get over a near overwhelming sense of indignation, an effort to find a way to write this in a way that does not betray that anger, but rather some sense of concern for the direction of this country.

I didn’t want to write anything else, until I figured this out. I hope I accomplished this aim. I will admit, it’s short on answers, but the answers are really the same ones that we’ve heard all along: whites and people coming together around the things that we have in common – even mutual pain.

While there’s much about which to write aside from the war of words between the Republican and Democratic nominees, I’ve wanted this blog from its inception, to promote meaningful dialogue. I hope its done this. And I want to try and avoid knee jerk political punditry. Politics actually does matter. Policy does matter. And I think that even in this very odd season, we can get around the partisanship and ask policy questions that matter to us and the people we care about.

One of the issues that has had me thinking and rethinking about how to view this election, is, of course poverty and for whom should the poor cast their vote?

Interestingly enough, while it appears by the polls, poor minorities will overwhelmingly vote for Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump’s recent refrain when making his appeal to the black electorate is ‘What do you have to lose?’ And bases this question on how the cities run by the Democratic Party haven’t made that much of a difference in their lives. Leaving aside, for this post, the fact that many, if not most, of our poor urban cities – particularly in the south – happen to be in red states, or the absence of specifics by which Trump intends to make the lives of poor black citizens appreciably better, there is a very interesting irony, regarding Trumps base voters. Trump’s base, is primarily described white men, with a high school diploma or less, from communities suffering from high unemployment and the correlating poverty and the nihilistic attitudes that are the pathology of such neighborhoods: drug abuse, alcoholism, rising mortality rates and subsequent fears that their children’s future is no longer as bright as the American Dream once promised.

In other words, the same issues that have plagued black communities for decades!

Don’t take my word for it. The same question is the subject of several articles in the Atlantic Monthly. Look at some of the titles, The Despair of Poor White Americans: The Original Underclass, All Hollowed Out: The Lonely Poverty of the White Working Class, Who are Donald Trump’s Supporters, Really?

And this passage from ‘The Despair of Poor White Americans…’

“Today, less privileged white Americans are considered to be in crisis, and the language of sociologists and pathologists predominates. Charles Murray’s Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010 was published in 2012, and Robert D. Putnam’s Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis came out last year. From opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, they made the case that social breakdown among low-income whites was starting to mimic trends that had begun decades earlier among African Americans: Rates of out-of-wedlock births and male joblessness were rising sharply. Then came the stories about a surge in opiate addiction among white Americans, alongside shocking reports of rising mortality rates (including by suicide) among middle-aged whites. And then, of course, came the 2016 presidential campaign. The question was suddenly no longer why Democrats struggled to appeal to regular Americans. It was why so many regular Americans were drawn to a man like Donald Trump.”

It is interesting that the exportation of jobs and decent education and the importation of jobs and crime in these poor white communities, mirror the same impact of the same policy driven woes in the black community.

William Julius Wilson, a brilliant African-American sociologist, has outlined the process which has caused so economic suffering in our black urban centers suffer, many years ago.

In his classic work, ‘When Work Disappears’, Wilson talks about the decline of manufacturing jobs, formerly located within the urban core. Jobs which offered good wages, upward mobility within the industry and economic stability for workers. These were jobs that required a high school education and relatively low skills, with the ability of learn.

With the loss of manufacturing jobs came service industry jobs. They required little education or experience. They provided opportunity primarily for women. They were referred to as ‘pink collar’ jobs. With the internationalization of these low skill, low wage jobs, came the flight of manufacturing jobs to foreign countries where low skill, non-unionized labor was prevalent. The collateral damage? Male workers. Both white and black, but for black men, bearing the burden of racism, it was particularly devastating. The results? Hopelessness, negative feelings.  Boys head to the streets. Social isolation. Social networks fall apart. Marriages fall apart. Out of wed births increase. Increased drug dealing and drug addiction. And the spiral continues.

Yet, here’s the thing: when these things were happening for decades in the black community, the cry from the white community was, ‘Pull yourself up by your bootstraps’. The same things were happening undercover in the white community and now its a major crisis in our politics and our society. Now, this pathology calls for  a champion to correct it…Donald Trump.

Still it’s not just poor white communities dealing with the pathologies that have impacting our urban centers for decades. Even wealthier white suburbs are dealing with an epidemic of our failure to win the war on drugs. In a riveting  episode on the subject 60 Minutes, deals with how an area of the rust belt, has been impacted by drugs. Read the conclusion of that episode with one of the mothers whose family has been devastated by the problem…

“Bill Whitaker: I’m sure there are some who would be watching this and would say, “Heroin addicts are junkies and they brought this on themselves, so why should we care?”

“Tracy Morrison: Because we don’t throw diabetics who sit on the couch eating Bon Bons and smoke and they weigh 300 pounds in prison. We don’t belittle them and there’s not a big stigma; we don’t do that to people that chain smoke and develop lung cancer. It’s a chronic relapsing brain disease, period, amen, end of story and we need to accept it– even if it makes people uncomfortable. And if people don’t like that, I’m sorry.”

It is what many black families have been saying for decades…

Reflecting on the state of affairs in these two all too American communities, challenges me with another thought: why aren’t we working together…indeed fighting together…to bring about the policy changes that can impact our future and those of our children. Of course the most obvious reason is we’ve all had a game played on us. As black Americans, we see racism as a predominant cause – almost to a fault. And while racism is either a result of or cause of much of the divide, poor whites, particularly those suffering from those same pathologies that have impacted black communities for decades, comfort themselves in a threadbare cloak of superiority believing that the pigment of their skin keeps them of society’s bottom rung. In the meantime, there’s a predominant class making off with the goods!

Do we need a new politics? You bet. Do we need more accountability? Right again. Do we need to have better people engaged in our politics and a more informed electorate? Absolutely. All of which will take time and a movement that has more integrity, creativity and political power than we see currently. But whether out of our mutual pain, or politics, or sense of survival, we must come together…before its too late!



Dallas’ Homeless Problem is Solvable – if We Ever Decide to Solve it…

I don’t get the tepid reaction to the report of Dallas’ Homeless Commission last week.

Maybe it’s because I wasn’t there (I understand that we weren’t able to provide the full report, including whatever itemized numbers we provided for our solutions), so I was unable to gauge the attitude of the council to the report.  And perhaps because we (or somebody) had said we were coming back with a final report in November. I know that in more than a couple of meeting, I argued for a full on report regarding the solutions – in other words not only provide the report and the numbers  –  but a full estimate an estimate as possible on how much it would cost to fully address homelessness – because I really believe, we may never have an opportunity like this again.

Nonetheless, nothing about the final report in November is going to change: we will still need, about 2100 units of housing, most of which will actually be in apartment complexes considered ‘market rate’. We will need to greatly expand the number of permanent supportive housing (PSH) programs, which should be standardized and coordinated relative to the type of services they deliver. But the council needs to realize that the standardization cannot be addressed through ‘minimal standards’. They need to be committed to radical interventions, which include opportunities that address the physical, mental and social needs of the people in those programs. And the fiscal infrastructure that addresses the housing needs, including programmatic needs, must be a creative packaging of local and federal funding. But that funding will take more than the proposed $3-$9 million. We need to be thinking of addressing at least 25 percent to half of those impacted over the next year to year and a half. And the city, needs to seek to address this by investing in more than housing. Frankly, the problem is as bad as it is now, not only because of the Great Recession, but because the city of Dallas, through successive city councils has done just enough to make sure that all but the poorer sections of our city never saw how bad the problem was.

So time is out for trying to address this issue on the cheap. We need a substantial financial commitment to a population that has never had one from the city before.

Where does the money come from?

  • Delay plans for the deck park, near the zoo for a year, commit some of that funding to solve the homeless problem
  • Explore even more creative uses Tax Increment Financing (TIF) funds which should be allocated for affordable housing
  • Reallocate the  uses of all of or portions of some of our fees and taxes, like room rental taxes to address homelessness
  • Use a portion of the upcoming bond package to address homelessness, either for gap funding for developers, or to provide case management services

In other words – TRY SOMETHING! Don’t simply be skeptical and dismiss the prospect of dealing with the problem substantively, out of hand.

When we give our final report in November, we will be approaching the colder months of the year, and the holiday season, when people are feeling more ‘charitable’. There will be plenty of feel good stories about how we are ‘helping’ the homeless. Most of those efforts will be laudable expressions of individual generosity. Some will be groups providing seasonal acts of good will. But I have seldom had anyone call me in spring, during our rainy season, or the dog days of summer, or in September when thoughts turn to the start of school and football games and ask what they can do to help the homeless.

We need entities that are committed all year-long to making sure that homeless citizens have an opportunity to live lives of self-sufficiency and productivity.

Our report says that on any given night, there are as many as 10,000 homeless people sleeping on our city streets. A  Dallas Morning News editorial yesterday, reported several cities – in Texas no less – that have creative ways of dealing with this problem. The fact is, the 10,000 people counted on as homeless in Dallas, represent less than 1 percent of our city’s total population. It’s hard for me to believe that represents an unsolvable problem.

The DMN editorial concludes, “We’re eager to hear more details on how these strategies could be implemented when the commission returns  to the City Council with a final report in November.” That’s an awful mild form of acceptance for the newspaper of record for a ‘can-do’ city. If we are going to address homelessness as the epidemic that it is, it has to be an all hands on deck effort.

I’m counting very few people and institutions, other than those of us who deal with this everyday, who seem to be all in…



Dallas’ Homeless Epidemic…

TZ1-HOMELESS COMMISSION_1470188162918_1790345_ver1.0I wasn’t at Dallas’ City Council briefing yesterday, when the Dallas Homeless Commission gave them the results of our study compiled over the summer. Believe it or not, I was in meetings, trying to build support for a new permanent supportive housing initiative! So, I was relegated to news reports.

Let’s just say, that I am unimpressed with the response of our council…

According to the Dallas Morning News, the range of responses went from calls for more ‘innovative’ responses to calls for the city to ‘own’ the problem…

“Reactions from council members were mixed. Some were critical of the commission’s first presentation, saying the group didn’t try to find new ideas to address homelessness…“If the council doesn’t get serious about this problem … we’ll have this problem perpetually,” council member Lee Kleinman said.”

Here are the facts: The city of Dallas has ignored the ‘new ideas to address homelessness’ for decades. The ideas presented ARE the new ideas to address homelessness based on best practices across the nation. And in response to Lee Kleinman…RIGHT ON! This problem DOES belong to the city of Dallas. If there was no CitySquare, no Austin Street Shelter, no Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance, Dallas homeless would still be the problem of the city of Dallas.

The response of Dallas Commission on Homelessness to its charge, was that the city initially invest, $3 million which would house about 600 homeless vets and chronically homeless adults (I DO have a problem with the ask, because its way too low – although, I’ve been assured it’s actually closer to $9 million. Dallas has at least 3800 homeless people. Any proposal that doesn’t include enough money to address the needs of at least 25% to half of them in the next 18 months isn’t realistic…but that’s just me…).

Dallas has doesn’t have a Homeless problem. Dallas has a Homeless epidemic. If we had nearly 4000 citizens, afflicted with any disease…the Zika virus, ebola, pneumonia, that’s just how it would be defined…an epidemic. That’s how we need to see it, an epidemic, one from which most of the people afflicted, will almost certainly die. They will die sicker, and younger, from diseases that are more treatable and/or curable than the rest of our more healthy population.

The difference is they are poorer than the rest of us. That makes it easier for us not to care as much. That makes them easier to ignore and to drag out arguments about what we can and should do about them, and to substitute and confuse our arguments for action. Until we all become incredibly less rich…in ways we can’t even imagine…




We All Must Respond to Homelessness

Cindy Crain is the Executive Director of Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance. By all accounts, she’s doing a tremendous job faced with challenging circumstances.

Although in some way or another, I’ve been dealing with homelessness as a pastor and as a non-profit executive, I’ve seen the problem grow worse through the years. And although, I have served with Cindy on our city’s Homelessness Commission, I am waiting to see whether or not our city council will accept and employ our recommendations.

Cindy’s wisdom, expressed in today’s Dallas Morning News, let’s us all know that everyone has to have some skin in the game, if we are going to solve this problem…not just the police. Police Chief David Brown, has lamented that police are asked to do to much. I tend to agree with him…the answer to homelessness is not citations and jail…it’s a home…

Here’s Cindy Crain’s Op-Ed piece…

Three months ago, a patrol officer called me regarding a person experiencing homelessness who was trespassing. I asked the officer to hand his cell phone to the man. I calmed him and recommended a solution, and he agreed.

Unfortunately, my staff and I were not immediately available to help. The Dallas Police Crisis Intervention Team was working on stacked calls. The two street outreach workers were knee-deep in cases involving the Interstate 45 tent city removal.

I called the officer back. I could clearly hear his frustration and agitation. He had been on this call for more than an hour, and it was hot outside.

“Ma’am, if y’all cannot get here soon, I am going to take him in.”

They say when all you have is a hammer, everything is a nail.

Police are equipped with a citation book, handcuffs, and so-called APOWW, or apprehension by a peace officer without warrant. An officer can call the crisis intervention team, but they are charged with far more than homelessness.

The day after the closure of the second major homeless encampment at I-45 and Coombs two weeks ago, I visited the site. I happened on the clean-up crew preparing to load possessions on a truck just outside the perimeter, a line difficult to discern for all the brush.

There, a homeless woman was deeply distressed and a police officer was working to understand the circumstance and necessary response.

Texting and calling, we resolved the situation together. As I resumed the walk-through, the officer asked, “Why didn’t she get housed like all the rest?”

My response was that we were only able to house a few.

The officer, “So, they were all just scattered all over?”

“Yes, sir.”

He shook his head, and I handed him my card and to call if I could be of service.

I have listened to officers lamenting the load that homelessness places on their time, patience and conscience. I recently started to listen to police band radio over the internet. I began to listen to Dallas Police 1 Central and 2 NE division locations.

Within the first 15 minutes I heard a call and recognized the address. Half an hour later, another. For days I listened and kept hearing descriptions and addresses that told me homelessness was a prominent culprit.

Nationally, Dallas has a reputation for its criminalization of homelessness. I know personally that this reputation in no way squares with the sentiment of the men and women who wear that Dallas badge.

Last week, members of the City of Dallas Homeless Commission expressed concern that the budgetary needs of Dallas Police were now in conflict with proposals to address homelessness.

I see no conflict.

In fact, the work of the Homeless Commission is a critical component to the goals to strengthen law enforcement resources. The Commission recommendations fall solidly within the learned best practices identified throughout the country.

Data improves our knowledge and accountability. Adopting the philosophy that housing ends homelessness — and the more rapidly navigated the better — will dramatically adjust the course of the homeless response system.

Aligning new street outreach with shredding entrance rules for homeless shelters will better define a clear and accessible path off the streets.

And then there is the housing. Last week at the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference in Washington, I met with peers from Portland, Oregon, Salt Lake City, Denver, San Francisco, San Diego and Houston.

All shared the same challenge: There’s no available affordable housing, the unsheltered homeless population continues to grow, and the homeless response systems are blamed. We are all wringing out every possible last-drop solution to counter more than four decades of declining investment in affordable housing.

In Dallas, systemic solutions are now in play. We will retool existing resources. But we need the commitment and strategic, targeted investment to counter the market and societal change. We all must respond, not just the Blue.

Has the Texas’ State Board of Education, No Shame?

Think for a moment back to your childhood. You don’t know many people who don’t look like you. You don’t know about their background, what they eat at home, what their traditions are – how they celebrate Christmas, New Years or their birthdays – what you know, is what you are taught.

What if the sum total of what you are learn about those ‘others’ is learned in school. Here, you learn about their language, their families, their history. What you learn shapes how you will think about these ‘others’.

What if you learn from your text book you study that, Mexicans as “lazy” with a do-it-tomorrow attitude and read about a watered down version of slavery during the Civil War  or that,  the home ownership rate in the Mexican-American community is lower than the national average, but this is due to the substantial percentage of Mexican-born immigrants that form almost one-third of the Mexican-American population, many of whom are poor, under-educated, or illegal.

How do you look at your fellow classmates who are the ‘other’?

That’s what a the textbook, “Mexican American Heritage” says, and that’s what our children will be studying from if the Texas State Board of Education has its way. Texas will waste its money, on this pitiful text that, unless something is done soon, will become the books offered to our school districts throughout our state.

One of the few democrats on the TSBOE, Erika Beltran, pleaded with her colleagues, “I’m asking to pull on your heartstrings and putting (sic) yourself in the shoes of a Mexican-American student whose parents, like myself, whose parents have been hardworking,” she said as her voice quivered. “In just the excerpts that I’ve seen, I can’t imagine being a child and seeing that language in front of me. And so, as we prepare for this conversation, I just urge you to think about the kids in our public school system that we already, we all know, are mostly Hispanic students.” 

A little over half of the states 5 million students are Hispanics. Why would adults, intentionally visit shame and humiliation on even one of them? It’s clear that the main reason is a political ideology that does not even stop at the denigration of an entire race and culture, in order to feed an ill-conceived and erroneous sense of white superiority.

When you don’t understand a culture, its easy to stereotype and generalize. That should not be the case in education. It certainly shouldn’t be the case for those who are writing, and promoting text books. “The authors don’t even seem interested enough in the subject to know the difference between Mexican Americans and other Latino communities or the fact that their histories in this nation are completely different from each other,” said José María Herrera, an assistant professor in education at the University of Texas at El Paso.”

Whose actually being ‘lazy’?

Maybe the one’s who should feel shame are the book’s publisher, ‘Momentum Instruction’, and its head, former State Board of Education member Cynthia Dunbar…

What do you think?





The Texas State Board of Education: It’s Time for Them to Stop

It’s one thing to allow your political ideology to color your perspective on current events. It’s quite another to let that ideology influence you to change historical facts.

Now let me be clear: all history knowledge and study is subject to change. The more we learn about history, the more we understand about certain eras, the influence of economic, societal and religious pressures upon a period and the actors in those historical periods, that knowledge does, at times, change facts. The importance of some people is elevated. The importance of others is diminished. We can grow in respect for some people and others we respect less. The resent ‘elevation’ of Harriet Tubman, to be the new face on our $20 bill, for instance, came about as our nation’s respect for her and her role in setting slaves free via the ‘Underground Railroad’. Tubman risked her life, to make sure that enslaved people made it to the north and freedom. At the same time, our view of Andrew Jackson, 7th President of the United States, was more than a little diminished as his role in the America’s genocidal battle against Native Americans, cast him in a much darker role in our country’s history.

But you can’t simply rewrite history to fit your own narrative of superiority. That’s wrong and dangerous.

Can someone please tell this to the Texas State Board of Education  – PLEASE?! They’re at it again!

“A proposed Mexican-American studies textbook for Texas high school students is written by authors with no expertise in Mexican-American studies, contains large sections that have little to do with Mexican-American history and includes language that depicts Mexicans as lazy, opponents of the book say.

“A newly formed coalition of educators and Mexican-American advocates has banded together to try to prevent the book, Mexican American Heritage, from ever making its way into Texas classrooms. The Texas State Board of Education is set to review the book this fall.”

Six years ago, in the previous blog I authored, ‘Change the Wind’, I wrote about these crazy right wing ideological shifts and the harm they would potentially do to our educational system, but to our children as well as the children of our nation. Because, most of don’t realize, Texas and California purchase the most text books, and because text books are only purchased every 10 years, a book full of lies, distortions and revisionist history, will be the books purchased by nearly every school district in the country.  Misinformation will color every child’s understanding of history, nearly a generation.

In the case of this latest education fiasco, depiction of ‘industrialists’ as hard-working, risk taking individuals and Mexican Americans as essentially ‘lazy’ is particularly harmful…

“The coalition pointed to a specific passage in the proposed textbook as an obvious example of the book’s flaws. Immediately after noting that Mexicans were stereotyped as being “lazy,” the authors “reinforce that stereotype in a discussion of relations between workers and American industrialists in Mexico in the late 1800s,” the coalition said. The group quoted from page 248 of the textbook:

“Industrialists were very driven, competitive men who were always on the clock and continually concerned about efficiency. They were used to their workers putting in a full day’s work, quietly and obediently, and respecting rules, authority, and property. In contrast, Mexican laborers were not reared to put in a full day’s work so vigorously. There was a cultural attitude of ‘mañana,’ or ‘tomorrow,’ when it came to high-gear production.”

The Texas State Board of Education is reviewing the proposed book and will consider public comments and feedback in September.”

Have these people lost their minds? Or do they think we have lost ours?

Clearly, the fact that the majority of students in Texas, in particular, are of Hispanic descent. If you teach them that their history in this country, is that of lazy, indolent ancestors who have contributed nothing to our history, heritage or economy, and that only white people were the ones ‘putting in a full day’s work, quietly and obediently…respecting the rules, authority, and property…’ their marred self-image, will produce pretty much the same thing. It will put them in the position of perpetual superiority in our country. It’s an institutionalization of hatred and bigotry that must not stand.

When the State Board of Education meets in September, the period for public comment should be taken up with hundreds of Texans who know better, in line in Austin to say, ‘No’!

We are the only ones who can stop Texas from becoming a laughingstock…and a stumbling block to public education…




Oh, Give Me a Home Pt. 2


Dallas’ Mayor has appointed a Commission on Homelessness. Both CitySquare’s CEO, Larry James and I are among some 30 plus practitioners and advocates whose charge is to

1.  Analyze our community’s current system for addressing homelessness.
2.  Compare it to best practices of similar communities.
3.  Deliver a focused set of strategies and recommendations for the City and County to consider going forward.

The objective is to position Dallas among the highest performing and progressive communities in addressing the complex issues involved with homelessness.

CitySquare has had some success in getting homeless people off the streets. From our, 16 story, vertical community called, CityWalk@Akard, to permanent supportive housing programs, to our soon to open Cottages at Hickory Crossing, as well as our “Homeless Outreach Team” (or HOT), we have learned how to get people into housing, get them back home, or reunite them with family.

CitySquare is not alone in its work among the homeless – in fact, we’re not even alone among those non-profits employing the strategy of permanent supportive housing (PSH) to shelter and another chance for homeless citizens. So with homeless advocates and non-profits willing to provide the opportunities for housing and services, why did tent city exist and why does chronic homelessness persist?

While nearly all of the agencies working to house the homeless have similar success stories, their are at least two fundamental barriers to getting more of our neighbors out of the streets. One challenge identifying units to house more of the homeless. In Dallas, real estate is booming. Many apartment managers who gladly accepted our programs in the past, are now turning to the market where they can make more money than the vouchers we provide. We must develop some carrots and sticks, some of which must be financial, that will both induce and some of which will demand that the developers and managers of multi-family housing make room for homeless and low income families. Even we admit that a project like ‘the Cottages’ is not the most efficient or effective way to combat homelessness. Segregating even the formerly homeless into encampments, does provide them with the role models or the environment in which they have the psychic space to do more and better with their lives. An awareness of the value of such strategies  involving more mixed income housing strategies is realized throughout the country…

“Kelly Stewart Nichols, planning and policy manager at the Austin, Texas, Neighborhood Housing and Community Development department, suggests that local governments prefer mixed-income housing to segregation of low-income residents in 100 percent affordable projects, because “policy lessons have taught us that poverty concentration is not ideal.” She notes that many low-income renters are service workers whose jobs are essential to the community—restaurant staff, retail clerks, cashiers, daycare workers, hairdressers, maintenance technicians, and security guards—or disabled and retired people living on Social Security income.

“In high-rent markets such as New York City, Los Angeles, and the District of Columbia, mixed-income projects allow teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other municipal workers to live in the neighborhoods where they work, says developer Mark Weinstein, who set aside 20 percent of Santee Court in downtown Los Angeles for workforce-affordable housing, because, he says, “it was the right thing to do.” Workforce housing, targeted to people earning 80 to 160 percent of area median income (AMI), is the most difficult category of affordable housing to finance because it does not qualify for tax credits.”

If we are going to provide those sleeping on the streets a home, we will have to include creative mixes of financing, including tax credits. We will also have to reallocate revenues, such as fees, abatements and other credits given to other businesses to make up pools of money to provide further rent subsidies to fund the gaps between ordinary subsidies will pay and what market rate rents are in actuality.

Still another obstacle, there is the Not In My Back Yard (or NIMBY) effect. Nearly everyone concedes permanent supportive housing is a great idea, but just not in my neighborhood. I recently sat with one politician, who told me he was unalterably opposed to any PSH program, anywhere in his district, even though he admitted he had a problem with homelessness, in his district!

Many who object to the policy of ‘housing first/PSH’ for the most part, don’t know any homeless people, and many don’t want to. That’s because so many of us, confuse ‘homeless behavior’ with the behavior of these same people once they are housed. Think of yourself, cut off from friends and family, with little if any money, with nowhere to go and no way to get there if you had someplace to go. What would your behavior be like? Now think of all the benefits we who are housed take for granted when we have the privilege of ‘closing out the world’ when we go ‘home’. Still being ‘homeless’ means more than that.

I remember when we started Destination Home, our PSH program, it was the first Thanksgiving fellowship we had with the new residents. There three men I sat down with to eat. I asked them each, how they became homeless. Each one had a story of loss. Two men had daughters that died. One had lost his mother. The bereavement led one to the loss of a job, another to the break-up of a marriage, two lost  their homes. Then  came addiction. Then actual homelessness.

I listened to them and reflected on their circumstances and I realized they were me! I was fresh off of burying our second son. I had experienced crushing losses as a pastor. Yet the difference is, I had family, friends, church members whose love would not let me go. It took all of them plus God, to keep me out of the grips of severe depression and despair. Short of that, these men were me.

The homeless are those who have fallen through frayed social fabric, a social fabric which has to be rewoven intentionally, by those of us who recognize ourselves in them. And who understand that the cost of letting them remain homeless, is a cost too high for us to bear.

What do you think?