Friday, February 03, 2006

homeless men

Originally uploaded by kimxtom.

Our church hosted 40+ homeless men this past week through PACEM and it has been an eye-opening experience. I only stayed overnight a couple of nights, but that was enough to shatter many of my stereotypes about the homeless.

The homeless men I met didn’t fit into neat pigeonholes. They were black & white, young & old, sober & drunk, unemployed & employed, talkative & private, clean & dirty, intelligent & confused. They all stayed in our small fellowship hall – very reminiscent of scenes from Katrina. They were kind to each other and very gracious to their hosts. I’m trying to imagine what the mood would be like with 40 middle-class men sharing this small space for a week.

I also met Lynn, the activist. She was homeless herself (see story here) and is very clear about the problem in our town. There is no affordable housing. To live indoors here, you need to earn over $20,000 per year and you are not going to earn that with minimum wage. Did you know that living in poverty is currently defined as making under $9800. That’s a big gap.

Lynn has said that "being poor means having no choices. It means playing by other people's rules in a game that is often unfair and humiliating." I met a group of men this week who are living this with more grace and courtesy than I think I could muster.

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