Background Checks Required to be Homeless?
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."
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...