I got word from someone in the congregation I am helping, that she (Lynn) has encountered a family who has been homeless until recently. The C family
consists of father and mother, an infant of about 2 years, and sons age 8 and 10. Having no home, the parents lived in their van since last
winter. They found someone to keep their children for them, so that they would not have their children taken from them by
the authorities who do such things.
In the past several days, they have again been able to rent a home (I don't know the circumstances--gift or earnings) and their children have joined them.
Lynn is helping the family, and has asked our congregation to help. I am sooo proud of them. Last month, our income was less than our expenses, we have a small number of people--and yet, our people are seeking to help others, instead of hoarding our resouces. It is obviously the right thing to do. Yet, I have known Christians who have given in to the temptation to hold back.
I thought we might have discussion and reactions as you each think about how it is to suddenly have a home, after living in a car for half a year.
Lynn saw them in their home, and they had practically nothing!
Imagine--sleeping on the floor, without blankets. If someone gives you food, you have no pot or pan in which to cook it, and no plates on which to eat it. You have no refrigerator in which to keep the leftovers. In fact, you have no oven or range to cook the food, anyway!
When the sun goes down, your home is almost completely dark (except for built-in lights), because you have no lamps.
If someone gives you a table lamp, it goes on the floor, because you have no furniture to put it on.
Your kids have no TV to watch, and the boys each have about as many toys as they can carry--no more.
Care to add to the picture?
Marymary and Snowy have spoken of working in poverty areas--do you ladies know people like this?
Other thoughts to add?
After some responses (I hope), I will tell you what has been accomplished with and for the family so far.
I don't want to be a wet blanket but I would have to know a whole lot more to make a constructive comment.With all the social agencies we have in
this country I find it unbelievable that someone would have to live in their vehicle and have someone else take in their children.
Why have they not taken advantage of welfare and food stamps?
I don't know if they have a link card (formerly, food stamps; the government adds spending value to the card periodically, and payment for food items
is subtracted at the grocery store as if it were a debit card. The cash register keeps track and only allows it to pay for food items, not tobacco or
toilet paper or soap, if the system hasn't changed since learned about it). They may, indeed, have one. But, while they were living in the van,
they couldn't cook. They might have been getting peanut butter, bread, very small packages of meat for a sandwich each day, stuff like that.
Ordinary welfare in Illinois would be Township Relief. It is not enough to pay for all the ordinary expenses of renting a home of your own. I have known people who managed if they could get enough people to share a home together. Township Relief requires approval, and their procedure is for you to exhaust all the other possible income sources, because they want to be the support of last resort. I don't know what they do if they run out of money, if someone meets their qualifications.
I have known people who were able to rent if they could get government-subsidized housing. I have a friend who is living in such housing. She applied for it so long ago that she had forgotten about it. Eventually, she got contacted and was told she could move into such an apartment if she wanted to. Since she had lost her job due to an injury, she was happy to take it.
Sometimes, a major problem in getting established in rental housing is the need to save up a deposit (to cover possible damages). Other times, the problem is previous debt. If a family runs up a debt of hundreds of dollars to the electric company, the gas company, or the water company, they may be unwilling to give you service at a new location so long as you haven't paid off what you already owe.
Now, Bob, you've got me thinking. I wonder if the C family applied for government-subsidized housing last year, and a home finally became available. It would make sense--wouldn't the government want to give priority to families with children?
For the topic, I was thinking more about how large a task they have, since they lost almost all their things.
Although I work with people who are impoverished, they are not homeless. Our LAs have an obligation to house people in at least temporary accommodation if there are children involved. They may well be too poor to buy the uniform or have furniture but they will be "wind and watertight".
I don't know how they feel, but I hope they are really happy to be back together as a family again
As for getting stuff together, for the kids it would be an adventure
Homelessness is my main charitable concern. I don't do a lot these days - apart from buy the big issue and make regular donations to Shelter but I
do try to make people aware of the problem whenever the opportunity arises.
Having said that, the problem of whole families being made homeless is not such a major one in the UK since the 60s - thanks largely to Cathy Come Home, a play written in the 60s which actually launched the Shelter Campaign.
If they live in a Town, City, county or State where they do not qualify for housing assistance then they might consider relocating to another State
where they could get assistance.
Instead of giving them money,buy them enough gas to get to NY, they can get full assistance there. It always boggles my mind that people will continue to live in a place where there are no opportunities rather than to go where there are and then complain about their lot in life.
I can relate and sympathise with anyone who is homeless, it is one of the most stressful things in life.
When my Father died I knew the house would be needed for the next Gamekeeper. I was allowed to stay on until a new one was found. I went the Highland Council who told me that I would have to go into a Homeless persons hostel or bed & breakfast accomodation. The thought of homelessness and hostels just petrified me, I cried for weeks. Luckily for me the Laird took pity and offered me my wee home that I live in now free of charge. I consider myself to be very lucky but I know that others are not so lucky.
I know of a family of four who didnt want to be split up so they lived in a tent for months before the council re-homed them.
That's terrible, Snowy. I'm amazed that you don't have any rights in that respect. although I'm glad the Laird did "take pity" on you, I think its bloody right that he did.
I'm not surprised the threat of living in a hostel made you cry. Specially on top of just losing your father. What a rotten system!
My wife's aunt, who never received much of an education and lived with her sister after her mother died, ran away from the residential home she went to stay in when her sister died and lived on the streets for a number of weeks. She was found by the police and taken back but escaped a number of times - each time to go back onto the streets. I guess she was treated with more respect by the homeless people she latched onto who probably had similar mental health problems to her.
Do they all have mental problems though John, or are some of them just victims of bad luck or lack of planning for their future?
I do believe that is what happened to myself, myself and my father did not plan for my future should anything happen to him and it put me in a predicament.
I do consider myself to be very lucky indeed....
I do believe that the majority have some sort of problem, mental or addiction of some sort.
A large number of homeless people are ex-servicemen.
That's true. It was the one thing that I didn't like about "Stone Cold" because the murderer is an ex-serviceman killing those who are "littering up the streets".
This looks a good site. Lots of basic information about homelessness:-
But I would say that the relationship breakdowns and ex-service personnel are largely due to mental health problems and addiction. In the case of the ex-service men, I suspect a lot of stress related issues and post traumatic stress issues.
I would have thought that ex-service people shoud go straight to the top of the housing list when they leave the service. If they are willing to lay
down their lives for the country the least the country can do for them is to make sure they have somewhere to live.
It was why all the pre-fabs were built after one of the wars wasn't it?
No. I think that was mainly due to the destruction caused by the blitz. Swiftly followed by the construction of high rise flats.
Mmm I just looked it up and they had promised land for all and a million new homes. In the end they built 200,000 new homes with no "land fit for
heroes". So, another empty promise.
However where I lived when I grew up had some prefabs that were eventually knocked down after the real homes were built. The prefabs must have been there for decades.
My experience working with addicts is that many of them become homeless as a result of their addiction. Some alcoholics are able to hold a job, and
so are able to continue in their homes; but many get to a point where they are unable to work (either because they drink on the job, or suffer
hangovers or severe health problems), or their families put them out because of their intolerable alcoholic behavior (the way they put alcohol ahead
of their spouse and children, the way they spend money on alcohol ahead of other things).
People addicted to cocaine, methamphetamines, or heroin find the drugs become extremely important, and everything else gets sacrificed when a choice has to be made. In a few weeks, I will be attending the wedding of a dear friend who is a recovering crack addict/ alcoholic/ pot addict. She used to stay up four days at a time while she was smoking cocaine rocks. She worked two jobs to get enough money to support her drug habit. She eventually was caught for embezzling $6000 from a short-term high-interest loan company, at which point her husband kicked her out (whom she has since divorced). She got help for her addiction. She has been sober and drug-free for three years now. I am so proud of her!
I volunteered for about four years for a local homeless action group many years ago, which I guess did a similar job to what is mentioned in the OP,
except our organisation wasn't affiliated to any church/religion, and was "supposed" to be backed (not funded) by the local council, though you
often wondered about that TBH.
I also spent about 7/8 years volunteering at a place who took your unwanted furniture and various household items, and then passed it on to people just like those mentioned in the OP.
The second ^ is still in existence, and although it's changed somewhat, especially since my early days, it still does a great job helping people who need it most. The first place now exists under a different guise, and I have little knowledge of it these days.
Well done you, Daz. I'm impressed and belittled.
Well done Daz, a very worthy cause indeed.....
I didn't take it that way at all. Its just that homelessness has been a bit of a personal crusade for me but I have never yet got around to doing anything truly practical.
Daz, it's all to the good if John L looks at what you've done and says, "Daz has given a good bit of himself into charity work. I could do that,
too! In fact, it's time for me to look for such opportunities."
John, I have found my charity work, with the people who have such challenges (getting to know them, working side-by-side with them) to be immensely rewarding. It makes a person-to-person connection that ties us together. It took me some time and effort to get involved (I will have to decrease my activities somewhat, when I get full-time work), but it is well worth it, a benefit to me as well as to them.
We had a lot to do with homeless youth in our last home. Most of them were on the streets because of a poor home situation. Many took drugs to cope. In my youth my mother worked with the Salvation Army attached to a men's shelter. Many of the men there had ended up on the streets owing to some crisis in their personal lives, some, to drugs or alcohol, but not all. One of them had been a well to do banker who'd had a breakdown. If this family with whom you have contact, Scholar, is restored to a stable place of shelter, then it is a good thing. Though, now that they have a home, that does not mean that they no longer need help. I'm certain that you are well aware of that, though. It is good to hear that your little church is extending themselves to help. When you (yourself) have needs, sometimes, that is the precise time to be reaching out to others. (I speak from experience here. e.g. at one stage we felt to give a rather sizeable sum to fulfil a need. The recipients protested, however, relented when we reminded them that it was more blessed to give than to receive, and thet they were trying to deprive us of a blessing!) Our experience has also shown us, that God will honour us, when we are willing to honour Him. Think of Abraham and Isaac. /End sermon.