In 1985 my wife and I decided to move from Louisville Ky to Atlanta Ga to work with the aging homeless. So we sold our home, closed Stepp's remodeling and moved south. And after all these years, I'm actually doing what I came here to do.
"It's the economy stupid". Those words were a winning battle cry for Bill Clinton. It was true then and is as true today. The nation has an economy in decline. Yet many cities around the US are passing laws that make those effected the most, are hurting the most, and have lost the most, pay more. Not in dollars but in basic human rights, freedom, and basically living.
I woke up this morning, grabbed a cup of coffee, started returning last nights emails, and clicked my tv on. Channel 2 News. Just the Stepp family's favorite news station. Although I've heard of cities making it illegal to be homeless, I really never allowed the thought to sink in. Urban Camping is the new catch phrase for living on the streets. Sounds like an adventure doesn't it? Something you do on a 3 day weekend with your kids once a year. Or the Scout outing you went on as a kid. But it's not.
Homelessness in America passed epidemic levels in 2009. Entire families, single moms, disenfranchised people, the mentally ill, etc. The list is too long to write in this post. I've heard it said that anyone could become homeless. I don't believe that is true. Foe example. If my family lost our jobs, had no money, no friends to live with, couldn't get help from government agencies, etc. We could move back to Kentucky. My family lives on a beautiful piece of land up there. It's our little bit of Heaven. Three beautiful homes are on that land. Swimming pools, ponds, a lake, a high end horse ranch, etc. Absolutely gorgeous. But everyone doesn't have that. Think beyond yourself.
This morning South Fulton County announced they passed a law banning urban camping. Roswell, Alpharetta, and many other local cities have these laws. What this does is it moves all the homeless families closer together. Eventually they will all be forced to be in the same place. Hearded and stored outside like cattle. A small area out of view from tourists, and the general population. A cardboard city. A city with no laws, no safety, and no hope. Rape, murder, robbery by default will be just a normal day. Is that what we have become? A nation that hides problems instead of caring enough to fix them
Trey Noran has a nonprofit in Las Vegas named :His Love Street Ministries". He was the first one to bring this problem to my attention. Banning urban camping is making it illegal to be homeless unless they are in the controlled, forgotten, and lawless environment, out of sight, as I described above.
Seeing homeless families while I drive through a city doesn't look good for the city. But there are alternatives. Instead of having government agencies handle the problem, a city could simply fund the homeless advocates in the area that have a history of being on the front line helping the homeless. Denver did. They started renting out abandoned hotels and allowing homeless nonprofits to manage them. They do a great job at about 10% of the cost. That is what Americans do. They show compassion, they do not hide the problem and hurt already hurting people. Make no mistake. When Jesus coined the phrase "The least of these". The homeless, I believe, would be who he meant.