Having raised a family, my wife and I moved back to our hometown and found it was just as we remembered: bike rides to coffee shops, friendly people, and walks in the quainter areas of town. The plan was to look for a new home while renting. Then Covid-19 happened and everything changed: people living and dying in the streets; home prices doubling and tripling; having our car broken into six times in six years. This definitely didn’t feel like “home.”
Walking downtown, I didn’t have any lose change for those living on the streets. Normally I have something – not out of guilt or obligation, but because they’re there at all. For my part this is done without any preconceived intention. I just go by and let my intuition guide me. Only this day, I was judging myself. I only had 50 cents in my pocket and was too embarrassed to give such a small amount. So, my cold response to his cheery, “Good Morning!” was to frown at him and walked on… seeing as I did, the genuine hurt in his eyes. Why was I so embarrassed?
I tried to justify my negative reaction by acting like others have told me: not looking directly into anyone’s eyes less you get caught up in some form of conversation… ending with a request for money.
What’s the cost of indecision – the cost of apathy?
By helping the poor, do we enable them to abuse the system? Are we being foolish?
By not giving, are we being cruel? What’s the real answer?
We may not know all the answers but, knowing what questions to ask is a start.
The criminal element (within the street community) take advantage of these mentally vulnerable and/or addicted victims. But unless the disadvantaged have a safe, secure shelter – that they can call their own – they’re afraid of losing what little they have… that it will be stolen if they leave their particular patch of sidewalk. Similarly, a poet once observed that he wasn’t saddened by how little the man had, but how much he had to carry. Are we also carrying too much? I know I am.
That’s why permanent housing is so key to any kind of rehabilitation. With the generous donation of $25M, an anonymous family has provided city hall with the funds to address this problem: betting that our community – the public, the police, the politician – will give it a chance.
On the way back home, I swallowed my pride when I encountered that same street person. I handed him those two 25cent coins saying that I hoped it would be of some help toward a coffee maybe. The man looked up from where he was sitting and with deep appreciation said, “It sure will!”
When the mayor was asked about the homeless situation he said, “Delay is measured by deaths, not by days.” Yes, now is the time and place for change.
That’s the way I figure it. Fred Parry
“The rules have changed today (Hey)
I have no place to stay (Hey)
Oh my Lord, I have to roam (Hey)
I have no home (Hey)
I have no home (Hey)”
Time Has Come Today – Chamber Brothers https://youtu.be/cEKp5smqxHQ Watch on YouTube