Background Checks Required to be Homeless?

Do we now require background checks before we can be allowed the basic human need for shelter?  What level of lowness and cruelty have we reached in America?
Do we now require background checks before we can be allowed the basic human need for shelter? What level of lowness and cruelty have we reached in America?

Really now, Americans! Background Checks to be Homeless?

I hate for my hubs to always be inspired by my angry reactions; truly I do. I would rather get an urge to write about wonderful, awesome, and intriguing things. But this one really takes the cake, and I would like to throw it out here, to see what other people think about it...

I was just surfing around, researching and looking for information for my upcoming hub on Homelessness, when I ran into a blog from a church, somewhere here in the good old USA - I am not sure where this church is exactly - I don't care, and I don't even want to know, really. Somewhere in freezing Washington State, I gathered... I am quite sure I would never want to visit this community, nor ever meet any of its residents.

Here is the web address of the article which got me going: http://www.myballard.com/2009/02/26/emotions-run-high-at-homeless-shelter-meeting/

(Hope they don't mind my using their page as the object of a public discussion on social issues, and I am calling Fair Use laws into play here, as my right, and as protection...)

This church recently held an "emergency meeting" to determine whether they would give 20 homeless people shelter at one of their unused church facilities. So far, we are all good here - very commendable, and yes, certainly expected, that Christians should want to alleviate the suffering of less fortunate people. Very good. And those who proposed the plan to shelter these poor people from the cold are certainly AOK in my book. This is what Christians should be doing, and what anyone with the means to help should be doing.

It sounded like the SHARE/WHEEL group (a non-profit group composed of churches that helps poor and homeless people with shelter and food, and organizes and supervises "tent cities" for the multitudes of new homeless people, victims of the economic collapse) had a pretty good plan for taking the homeless guys in, and where they would put them.

Apparently, these homeless people had already been surviving as a small community at another church elsewhere for a while, and had formulated a set of rules about the behavior of the members of the group. For example they have a "no drugs, no alcohol, no violence" rule, and all "doors must be closed from 7pm-7am", which is even a little more stringent than usual for homeless shelters.

The advocates of taking in the homeless people apologized for not giving the members of the church more notice about the meeting, but that considering the homeless condition of the people they were trying to help, they hoped they would be forgiven for the short notice.

Two churches, the Calvary Lutheran Church and Our Redeemer churches, had recently merged, and the plan was to lodge the homeless group in a vacant church building belonging to the church.

But when the members were presented with the proposal, their answer was: "And what kind of mandatory screening have you done on these people? "

The response was that they were carefully interviewed, but received no warrant or background check.

One member demanded, “I want accountability before you move into my neighborhood.”

The pastor of the church where the homeless people are currently being housed replied, “We would not require that of our neighbors or each other,” he said. “It’s not an appropriate response.”

They had wanted to move the people in almost immediately, to give them a place to be. But ended up getting nothing but a three week delay while they could decide whether they would accept the people or not, and a whole bunch of negativity, cruel and callous remarks and accusations, ranging all the way from "the homeless are all sex offenders", to "this pastor is raking in all kinds of our tax money from the non-profit organization he represents, which is just a cover-up for a tax shelter for crooks, for his own benefit, and is trying to force these people on us, to ruin our community".

There is a comment section on the article, which is especially enlightening, because it showcases both some helpful attitudes, but also some very intolerant and non-compassionate views, which should make any American feel red in the face and ashamed down to the bottom of our toes.

Here are some examples of those shameful comments:

"it is irresponsible -- even unconscionable -- for any organization to resist conducting proper background checks on homeless people moving en masse into a new (mostly residential) neighborhood."

"Why should this neighborhood be obligated to welcome such an unknown factor into their lives?"

"maybe there's a center downtown that's not immediatley (sic) in a neighborhood where people live."

"SHARE will trample all over you if you let them. For lack of a better word, they extort money from the city and county by threatening to open "Nickelsvilles" unless they get funding. The county regularly gives them funds so they can bus people to shelters from downtown."

Here's a nice Christian attitude:

"They need to wake up and realize that getting background checks is the way of the world"

Reply: "You hit the nail on the head. Many of these folks simply prefer to drop out of society, live by their own rules, which is fine, that's their right and their choice.

However, what they can't expect is that we have to accept their lifestyle. We chose rules (background checks, drug testing, credit checks etc.) so that we would NOT be homeless and so we can live in a nice neighborhood, not a sh*thole.

They can claim such checks infringe on their 'dignity', but all they do is infringe on their pseudo-hippie, I-wanna-be-me, lifestyle.

Tune and drop out by all means, just do it somewhere else. I suggest Berkeley."

Here's a pretty good one, meant to be satirical, no doubt...

"I think that everyone should have a background check. We should wear tags that announce what our background check finds. When meeting new people, we should kneel briefly, avert our eyes and offer our tag in submission for the others perusal. If we are deemed worthy, the other will tap us gently on our shoulder and we can rise and give each other gentle hugs of affirmation."

Here are some more daft-headed responses:

"A church should take care of its immediate congregation and not dozens of people from outside the community. The people in that neighborhood didn’t move there to live next to a homeless shelter and have every right to block this project."

"Aren't they the ones who made bad decisions that got them homeless? Remember they had to run out of options with their friends, co-workers and families before they ended up on the streets..just how capable are they now of being accountable?"

"Time to lawyer up folks. If they want to drive down the value of our homes, time to fight back and drain their bank accounts with legal action."

(I actually like this next one:)

"As for background checks, those of us who would actually feel more secure if this were done might also consider requesting that the AA groups and the 36th District Democratic organization who meet at the Calvary building also submit to the same procedure. Indeed when Our Redeemer finally suceeds in finding another congregation to rent or hopefully buy the Calvary building, I trust those folks will demand that all the members of that organization undergo background checks."

But the following made me want to vomit in my coffee:

"The majority of the homeless people we are talking about have ruined their own lives. Unless the right homeless people to help can be found. Don't help any of them"

"This is a non profit, which is a Tax free shelter for many, and nothing more. Not all Non Profit's are for the Betterment of the world. Is this a tax shelter or a legit organization trying to help Ballard? Who the heck are the people? I smell a rat here, frankly."

"I'm for the utter ejection of all homeless people from Ballard--but I say be upfront about it - Ballard - a Nice Neighborhood for the Right People, All Others Leave By Sundown."

"My wife and I believe that the soup kitchen, along with the food bank, is a problem. Daytime operations make it a magnet for an undesirable element who come in their cars/trucks/RVs as well as metro, to ‘party’ and claim turf. Where one can see a motley crew boozing it up in a parked car or just loitering without purpose, needles, hard drugs, and psychotic alcoholics are not far behind."

"I don't like seeing any riff-raff in Ballard. Anyone who doesn't bathe daily or tip their hat to a lady ought to be arrested on sight.

"I really want to help the homeless, but I only want to help them if they live in someone else's neighborhood. And, of course, they only deserve help if they've arrived at their current situation through a combination of perfect decision-making and horrendous luck. I'm willing to help in any way I can, but I don't want to see them. Or pay for it."

"But - since life isn't working out so well with the rules you've played by so far - then maybe its time to adopt someone else' rules for a bit. When you can afford your own place - then you can go back to your own rules. I mean - if the price for having a shower, a shave, a place to learn how to make resumes and get mail and get clean clothes - costs the price of you having to sit there through a church service - tough." (Jeez, I didn't know that being poor obligated you to accepting someone else's religious practices, did you?)

And here, finally, was one comment I could not agree with more:

"Housing is a basic need, the quality is determined by things like a background check, income and a pattern of good choices, but denying someone basic housing that would keep them from sleeping outside, on the basis of whether or not they can pass a background check is denying someone a basic human right: Shelter."


Nope.  You're not allowed to be homeless - you flunked the background check!
Nope. You're not allowed to be homeless - you flunked the background check!
Excuse me, ma'am - wait a minute - before you set your belongings here in public sight, may I see the results of your background check? (image property of Life.com)
Excuse me, ma'am - wait a minute - before you set your belongings here in public sight, may I see the results of your background check? (image property of Life.com)
Sorry, kids, you'll have to leave the shelter, your parents have failed their credit and criminal background checks!
Sorry, kids, you'll have to leave the shelter, your parents have failed their credit and criminal background checks!
Ma'am, we can not help you with a place to stay.  You have flunked both your credit & your background checks!  So sorry! Where will you go?  We don't know - it's your own fault you are in this mess!
Ma'am, we can not help you with a place to stay. You have flunked both your credit & your background checks! So sorry! Where will you go? We don't know - it's your own fault you are in this mess!
Nope.  You can't be homeless here, either - you might be criminals.  We don't want you to "contaminate" our perfect community!  Get out!
Nope. You can't be homeless here, either - you might be criminals. We don't want you to "contaminate" our perfect community! Get out!
Could we see your criminal background check, please?  Don't have it?  Well, you can't be homeless here without it - you'll have to be homeless somewhere else.  It's not allowed here!
Could we see your criminal background check, please? Don't have it? Well, you can't be homeless here without it - you'll have to be homeless somewhere else. It's not allowed here!
All right, everyone, please have your credit and background checks ready for inspection before speaking to the homeless intake officers, or we can't help you...
All right, everyone, please have your credit and background checks ready for inspection before speaking to the homeless intake officers, or we can't help you...
I'm sorry, honey, I know you are hungry & this is just water, but they receive subsidy money from the government here, and I can not pass the credit check, so they will not let us have any food.
I'm sorry, honey, I know you are hungry & this is just water, but they receive subsidy money from the government here, and I can not pass the credit check, so they will not let us have any food.

America, you have lost your way! Stop it!

 
(There's more coming here - but I have to leave right now - the furnace seems to be messing up and I have to go get my kerosene heater - it's 20 degrees here in KY! I had already written it, but the builder ATE IT!)

I'll rewrite it when I get back home again later on...

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Comments 19 comments

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia

We do live in a very sad and cruel world. I never cease to be amazed by mans inhumanity to man. Happy New Year.


The Old Firm profile image

The Old Firm 6 years ago from Waikato/Bay Of Plenty, New Zealand

Christian sympathy is of coarse only for Christians. Muslims, Confucius followers, atheists, agnostics and others are nothing but contemptible savages who don't deserve help. That they may have paid taxes for years is immaterial. That is their due to be permitted to live in the same community as decent God-fearing people.

Just because a person claims to be a Christian doesn't make them one. Many are liars who worship idols and false Gods. Take papists, who worship statues, or Orthodox Russians, who are nothing but commie scum. If they're not in our church they shouldn't expect to bludge on our Christian sympathy. Don't try to deceive us by joining our congregation just so you can elicit our sympathy, we know better. We take only decent people, middle class Americans who's families have lived in the neighbourhood since before WW2, own their own homes, and are full members of the local country club. Employment, preferably in a family business, bank, or government department is mandatory.

I'd write more on our efforts and generosity to true Christians in need (for example, John from the local bank had to go on a convention in Nevada, and the Church generously Gave him $2000 from our poor fund to help him and his wife get decent Christian accommodation.) however a group from my church which I belong to, The Enforcers of Community Decency, have just called around and need my help.

Some dirty n.. Afro American spoke to one of our parishioners daughters unnecessarily at the bus terminus earlier today. She of course immediately reported it to us and is under police protection in the local Christian Hospital recovering. He's obviously a filthy drug taking low-life pervert rapist and is being held in cells awaiting trial after the deputy, a fine member of our congregation, gave him a good and well deserved beating.

Deputy Thungk has thoughtfully left the cell unlocked to help us save the county the expense of a trial. There's nothing like a good Christian lynching to start the decade off right.

God Bless You and God Bless America,

Elbert P Lovejoy the 3rd,

Elder,

Combined Church of Immaculate Deception and The Tinyminded Bigots of America,

Persecution,

The State of Grace, Midwest.


MagicStarER profile image

MagicStarER 6 years ago from Western Kentucky Author

LOL! Well-written, my friend - you have captured the sentiment precisely! :) Could you be one of our fine friends from the Bible Belt, by any chance? I seem to recognize your fine moral quality as very similar to that of our upstanding guardians of social correctness and racial purity, the much-maligned but estimable KKK.

Or could it be that you are possibly a close relative of our Mayor, member of the CFR, Rotary Club, Heartland Moral Justice League, and Elder of the Baptist "Better Than Any of You" Church, who lives at Rolling in the Bucks Green Meadows Sub-Division, gated community where everyone is required to have identical gold-plated doorknobs or be booted instantly from the neighborhood?


Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean 6 years ago from Bismarck, ND

This is very disturbing. The plight of the homeless is heartbreaking. I am thankful I belong to a congregation who is reaching out to help the homeless. Our pastor feels this is what God is calling our church to do.(I highly doubt we would resort to background checks but I am glad I am now aware that it goes on) I wish other ministries in this area would step in and do their part. There are about 200 homeless people in Bismarck and the surrounding area but with 700 churhces there shouldn't be any homeless people.


RNMSN profile image

RNMSN 6 years ago from Tucson, Az

you guys think this is new? this happened during the 30's but as there was no hubpages the newly homeless just got run out of town on the rail/it wasn't until over half the country was in recession haha depression that the govt finally did something...we need another f d roosevelt...we need the "Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), 1933-1942: employed young men to perform unskilled work in rural areas; under United States Army supervision; separate program for Native Americans" along with all the other new deals that would have still been helping americans today if the rich so called good christians had not fought our pres Roosevelt about it!!

my Teekee was right, he was the only pres that had all americans best interests at heart...we now have no heart!!

please /am I the only one to know whatever we put out into the universe comes back to us...times three?

but we can change/I have to believe that... we all must believe and make it happen for the good and best interest for all people


Timothy Donnelly profile image

Timothy Donnelly 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Matt. 19: 24 “And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

This of course means those people with the means to help, but who choose not to help (those in need).

There is also another scripture that those Christians may want to recall, and I’ll leave it up to them to find it, where Christ says that it is better give alms to 10 unworthy than to deny one righteous man his needs, or something to that effect.

Good tidings for the New Year, MagicStarER.


MagicStarER profile image

MagicStarER 6 years ago from Western Kentucky Author

Cari Jean - Hi and thanks for reading - I am glad your congregation is helping. Bless your hearts!

To my friend RN-MSN - You are so right. And I do wish they would have passed Roosevelt's addendum to the Bill of Rights! (I think that one was FDR's, not Teddy's) And you are also right on the money about whatever you do to help others coming back threefold.

Shelter is a basic human right. Regardless of race, sexual preference, religion or lack therof, criminal background, how much money you have in the bank, or whatever the person ingested.


bearclawmedia profile image

bearclawmedia 6 years ago from Mining Planet Earth

Don't get me started or I will write a hub. Suffice to say that the very people we marginalise in society often need our compassion the most. Any way best thoughts for the new year


MagicStarER profile image

MagicStarER 6 years ago from Western Kentucky Author

To Timothy Donnell: Thanks for reading! Yep. Those rich people can't be bothered to learn about heaven - they are too busy trying to pull everybody else through the heads of those needles!


itakins profile image

itakins 6 years ago from Irl

Nothing short of sick really-

perhaps the church should allow the homeless to advance book accommodation online!!!

Oh Boy-!


lightning john profile image

lightning john 6 years ago from Florida

In March 2002, I was working construction in Dallas Tx when the tower scaffold I was climbing rigging failed letting me fall some 28 or more feet. After 8 months in and out of hospitals, I was left with nothing. Insurance paid most medical costs, but I couldn't get a penny more, nore a lawer to help me. I lived out of my van for awhile until that was repoed. I quit drinking, and all other foolish activities. I have met alot of homeless people along the way, and I have to say yes, many of them have mental problems that are overwhelming to try and comprehend. I am stronger now, and have got back on my feet, but I will never forget what I was told when I went for Government help. I was told that since I was a white man that I should have family to help me out! So I never got any assistance and have done quite well by believing in myself and living healthy.


MagicStarER profile image

MagicStarER 6 years ago from Western Kentucky Author

to lightning john: I am very glad you made it up out of that situation! It's not easy! You are so very right that many homeless people are mentally ill, or have dual diagnoses (mental illness plus addiction). During the Reagan Administration, funding for Community-Based Services for the mentally ill was cut off. The mentally ill persons who used these services were abruptly dumped into the streets with nowhere to go. This was a criminal act which took vital services away from these helpless individuals and threw them to the jaws of victimization and predation, and also exposed the rest of society to the often bizarre or dangerous behaviors of mentally ill people who are not being monitored on their meds, and not even receiving them anymore! Since then, more programs have been cut which helped the mentally ill, sick, hungry, and homeless under the Bush Administration. All of this, along with the economic collapse, has made the homeless situation even worse - I don't see how it can get any worse.

Screw background checks. Give people jobs, shelter, health care, and food! Give them a hand up so they can take care of themselves!


lightning john profile image

lightning john 6 years ago from Florida

Oh God I didn't know that! I just always assumed I just have had really bad luck. Thank you for your info, and keep up your great writing!


Niteriter profile image

Niteriter 6 years ago from Canada

Good reporting here, MagicStar. Too many of these tragedies go unrecorded by our news outlets because they lack the sensationalsim to attract sufficient ad revenues.

We know our society is in need of mending when even our churches are more concerned about legalities and property values than about feeding and sheltering our poor.


MagicStarER profile image

MagicStarER 6 years ago from Western Kentucky Author

To Niteriter: Sorry so late in responding to your comment, didn't know it was here! Yes it is sickening that these so-called "Christians" place more importance on the value of their property or about the backgrounds of the poor than they do about compassion and mercy. Shame on them. They are not Christians and give real Christians a bad name.


Unchained Grace profile image

Unchained Grace 6 years ago from Baltimore, MD

Our ministry has been working with the homeless for the last four years and the church we're associated with has been doing so since 1998. We have been through every single bit of the trash mentioned above. The government nor the city will not help these people yet they harass those who do what they should be doing. We have six homes in Baltimore City for Veterans and nonvets.

Even though we're a 501(c)3, we've had to do it ourselves as we get no help. So, I cannot answer for others. I can only relate what we've been doing. The above individuals who call themselves "Christians" will get their just rewards. God hits harder than I can. Meanwhile, our Veterans Housing Program and Holy Truth VetsTown Back to Work Program is kickin' without their help and we'll be able to employ 15-20 previously homeless veterans in our first VetsTown Variety Store! The vision calls for 5-6 stores which will than allow us to house and employ 75-100 previously homeless persons.

Dignity. Repaired self image. New feeling of self worth. Isn't that a purpose worth fighting for?


timisle0425 6 years ago

HOrrible - consciences have been forgotten and must be remembered!


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 6 years ago from the short journey

While you have definitely made a point that needs to be made it is important to remember that what you describe here and what so many have commented on is not how everyone feels nor how everyone reacts to the homeless.

Please read my comments on Immartin's "Meet Marta and Chuck..." There are a wide variety of charities and government agencies that do help people, but we need more people involved in these charities and more people impacting governmental decisions.


stirringtrouble profile image

stirringtrouble 4 years ago from London, United Kingdom

Wow this is unusual news what happened to him did he get his tent converscated or did they evict him or something.

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