Thursday, July 31, 2008

Homeless Target Church

Flattened cardboard boxes and two pillows are somebody's bed right under a "No Trespassing" sign at a Park Avenue church. This alcove on one of the city's most historic churches has become a chronic target for squatters, despite efforts by members to encourage them to seek help. The church provides food at the end of each month, but has no means of giving shelter to the homeless in the neighborhood.

An interim minister is starting Friday and he will have to go no farther than the church grounds to witness one of the city's most intractable problems. Someone has hidden two shopping carts behind this holly bush and has strewn stinking food remnants and liquor bottles around. Squatters were recently kicked out of an unsecured office building nearby, but as we know from our experience on Block 832, they don't go far. Now church members will be left to clean up this mess.
The pastor of another nearby church believes a homeless alcoholic is living in the churchyard shrubbery. Across the street, someone put carpeting and a tarpaulin on top of a garage roof, apparently to sleep on. A woman was using the hose at a nearby lawyer's office to wash herself.
The Lot 7 al fresco drinkers were in full effect Wednesday, with six lined up on the curb when I came home from the public library. I'm told the drinking crew that used to meet behind Connolly's trash bin on Block 832 is back and when shooed, they just go across the street to a yard across from the YMCA.
If all this is happening around Park & Seventh, what else is going on in neighborhoods around the city? There are lots of resources to help these individuals, but resources come with rules. The dozen or so people with problems in this neighborhood do whatever they want, wherever they want. Public Works and property owners are left to clean up after them.
The Park Avenue church has as one of its principles to affirm and promote "the inherent worth and dignity of every person." If only these individuals could find that glimmer of human dignity within themselves, maybe they could accept a helping hand and move up from rock-bottom.
--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please allow me a moment to comment yo yout readers.

Most of us are not very far away from homelessness. What are our stress coping strategies even with shelter?

When you (not directed at anyone in particular) were rejected, dismissed, abused or ignored in one incident in your lifetime, what resources (family,friends, physician, community, church) did you have available to process such a painful emotional experience?

Now take that one experience consider multiplying how that feels by a few hundred a year & add 100 little insults every day. Insults can include anything from:
1- You happily walking into a fast food restaurant, go to buy lunch, the manager immediately approaches you, demands you leave immediately, & also points to the sign that says they have the right to refuse service.
2- How about you are accidently locked out of your house by accident? There is no store, gas station, or library that will allow you to use the bathroom or pay phone.

It is so sad that:
- illegal immigrants come here believing that they can have access to services & opportunity to then find out it doesn't work that way.
- rehabs are full and overflowing and needs more resources.
- we cheer for Change in this election, but we still look at the homeless as helpless that need help, but still have a "not on my block" mentality.

Do I have the ONE answer? Of course not. However, finding a "glimmer" when stripped of "dignity" in a community that has so many other challenges must be almost impossible.

We all have free will, but I don't know if someone with mental health or drug issues really chooses this way of life.

How about NOT looking at these suffering people through your eyes and try looking through theirs?

8:59 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home