I had cause to visit a shelter for the homeless recently and I felt encouraged largely by the kinds of people I found there.
Most of these people, both men and women, possessed a sincerity in purpose, a sensitivity in being as well as a depth of feeling and understanding of each other as it would be for most human beings.
I was, however, aware they were very much on their own and trying to make something of a life for themselves in the face of their suffering without a place of their own to retire to. These were people who needed the shelter to function.
Support for housing and other ministry issues was handled by support workers. Social connection between these people was evident as a very necessary way of spending some of their time.
Generally speaking, I feel people who are homeless are neither helpless nor powerless. Their inability to change their state is essentially the lack of financial capacity. Resources are opening up and the community is making strides in meeting the needs of the homeless, but society’s attitudes are a definite barrier to betterment. The weight of these attitudes serves to exclude them from other members of society — a painful burden itself.
This is why our society has established and needs to further develop community kitchens, shelters storage areas for long-term use, clothing and blanket distribution, medical assistance, etc. But this could all be more adequately addressed by accessible and financially-sufficient employment. Work that is based on hiring self-developed abilities and skills and acumen will make a life and is enabling and productively progressive.
Some of these people with their gifts, skills and talents should be included in the workforce. These people who are homeless want to work — they want jobs in the work world.