In the May 10, 2022 edition of the New Hampshire Union Leader there is an article about the homeless issue in Manchester. It is on the front page under the title, ‘Local social media has influenced the way city sees homelessness.’ It says that the people who discuss the issue online often find themselves in a debate over two primary viewpoints: Either help people who live on the streets and in encampments or, lock them up and run them out of the city.
How can shaming and punishing people for being homeless possibly make things better? Destroying the last threads of human dignity that a person may have helps nothing. Homelessness is an unfortunate situation to have in our community. But, it’s here and there is no easy solution to it.
While, addiction and criminal behavior within the populations of homeless people who live outside fuel the desires to ‘lock them up’ and to ‘run them out of the city,’ all too often, the cause of the problem (mental illness) is ignored. Does ignoring the root cause of a negative situation make it any better?
Some think that affordable housing is the solution. It may be a step in the right direction. But, it’s not going to solve the problem. Increasing access to addiction and recovery treatment options, increasing access to mental health programs, and individualized case management are the keys to eliminating chronic homelessness. Until we recognize this and do something about it, the situation is only going to get worse.
At Shepherd’s Way, we’ve tried to create programs to help deal with the root cause of the chronic homelessness in our area. But, time and again a lack of funding has denied us the opportunity to do so. The best that we can do right now is to do what we’re doing: Help feed, clothe and shelter homeless people who live outside in the elements.
Our mission follows the Book of Matthew 25:35-40 and, in spite of the difficult challenges that we face today as a small faith-based charitable organization, we are helping the most vulnerable in our society and, we will continue to do so.
Merle Burke, President & Founder