“People who are homeless are not social inadequates. They are people without homes.” — Sheila M.
In early December, I watched as the encampment behind the Haywood Street church was destroyed by the DOT. This was a camp that grew from one tent to a small group of 15-20 tents. I had spent some time talking to the people living there and was always met with stories and kindness. I had heard a minister had called to complain about garbage, fires and fights. What minister would call to get a camp dismembered when they have nowhere to go?
The camp seemed more like a family in the making. The people I met were just trying to survive. In 20-degree weather. They were grateful, respectful, hopeful and kind. I am sure there were some fights, some people struggling with drugs, but I also know they were living close to people who cared deeply for them. For their futures, for their health. People providing food, warm clothing, counseling and hope.
Our neighborhoods have brought me tons of blankets, clothing, toiletries and whatever the church had stated they needed. One person filled my porch with brand-new jeans when the church stated it needed smaller men’s sizes to fit the homeless youths. But the fact is, these people will never have a chance without help, a place to live and kindness. I want to clarify that it was not the Haywood Street minister who called and reported the camp. It would be nice to know what minister called and what Bible he/she reads.
The Haywood Street Congregation had been working with, feeding and counseling the people at the camp. The camp was not surrounded by neighborhoods but by the expressway. The people in the camp were supporting each other the best they could. The camp provided some safety and access to food, clothing and health needs. So, now where do they go — and who cares? They are still homeless; they still need help; they still need a place to set up camp, a place to try to survive the winter.
Call the DOT and ask why and where it had planned to help them go so they could be safe, warm and not upset commerce and tourists. This was a perfect place for them, from my point of view. It provided some safety, friendship and was close to help. Whatever problems the camp had were minor compared to being constantly uprooted, sent away to wherever away is.
It is easy to forget what we do not see. It is not easy to see people’s meager belongings being bulldozed and put in a dumpster. Faith requires risk, and this camp seemed to provide a place, a home. When I drove by the camp, it seemed like the wings of the church. An angel in the making. So, keep bringing coats, underwear, blankets, sleeping bags, tents and dog food to my porch at 197 Cumberland Ave. in Montford. If you are inclined, call the DOT. It should be noted here that the police were great, kind and respectful to the people and that there were other organizations trying to help.
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.” — Mother Teresa
— Lisa Morphew