Faith in Our Future: Homelessness Awareness
Homelessness - who are the homeless, why are they homeless and what can we as followers of Jesus do?
One of the initiatives of Cohort 22 (comprised of Visitation, St. Dominic's, St. Anthony Claret and St. Mary of the Lake) is to help the faithful in our parish gain a more comprehensive and balanced understanding of the issue of homelessness in our communities. Over the past few weeks we have run a series of articles in our parish bulletin as educational aids. They are reprinted here so that we can make more people aware of this important societal issue.
THE FACE OF HOMELESSNESS
Homelessness is the condition of people without a permanent dwelling. People who are homeless are most often unable to acquire and maintain regular, safe, secure and adequate housing.
We often think of the homeless as those adults we see at the former Lakewood Tent City or the current one in Howell. However, today’s homeless population includes a growing number of two parent families, one parent families, working people, victims of domestic violence and the families torn apart by deportations.
WHO ARE THEY?
They are seniors, families, disabled, mentally ill, adults, veterans, and young people. They are stigmatized, scared, lonely, depressed, worried, abandoned, shunned, bullied and embarrassed. They are all children of God.
WHY ARE THEY HOMELESS?
The working poor
: A growing number, of a new class of people, called the working poor are emerging. They have a full time job or several part time jobs, but do not earn enough to afford a car, car insurance, and a place to reside.
: They have lost a job; they are unable to work because of a physical or mental illness; they have no transportation; they have a criminal record; they have no job experience or current skills; or they have no documentation.
People with poor resources
: They have no family or friends; they had investments turn bad; they have depleted their savings; they are addicts or alcoholics.
: They have extraordinary medical bills; they have experienced foreclosure or eviction; they have unexpected auto or house expenses; they have lost their homes through fire or floods (many who are victims of Superstorm Sandy); and now immigration issues are causing the primary breadwinner to be separated from their family.
A DIVERSE COMMUNITY
Those without shelter are of all ages and backgrounds. They are children, young adults, families, resident citizens and immigrants, the elderly. According to a 2017 Annual Homeless Assessment Report for NJ,
There were 583 homeless veterans;
There was a 30% increase in those experiencing long-term homelessness;
1939 children under the age of 18 are homeless. Of those children, 50% were 5 years of age or younger. Children under the age of 18 represent 22% of New Jersey’s homeless population and 492 were kids without parents.
WHERE ARE THEY?
If they are fortunate, they have found temporary shelter thru organizations such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society, Catholic Charities, Interfaith Hospitality Network, Social Services or local churches. They are also in our neighborhoods. They sleep in a car. They move from friend to friend or between family when possible. They are in tents, stairwells, in the woods, under boardwalks, in the park. Sometimes they hide or trespass. Some can even be your co-workers who choose to use their pay for food or medicines or transportation.
WHAT DO WE OFFER?
The parishes of the cohort have:
St. Vincent de Paul Society
(with a food pantry) (All Churches)
Seeds of Service
, a center providing food, clothing, furniture, placement,
counseling and mentoring (Visitation)
Participation in Interfaith Hospitality Network of Ocean County
, an interfaith
consortium which takes turns hosting and housing families in the process of placement by social services (St. Mary of the Lake)
Catholic Charities of Lakewood
, which operates a food pantry, provides clothing and Immigration-Family Reunification services.
which provides furniture and household furnishings. Also provides free pick up of donations and delivery.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
We can so several things.
First and foremost, be considerate of feelings, understand the need to become independent or self-sufficient or able to support their own family. We can help to protect their privacy, help to navigate the available resources and be aware of the emotional, psychological and physical consequences of not having a safe place.
Secondly, we can get involved as a volunteer with existing organizations and /or become a member of the Cohort Committee and help develop this ministry. Contact any of the member parishes for more information.
May God’s Peace and Love be with you!
Jesus came to the world homeless, and made himself poor. Then, the church wishes to embrace all and to say that it is a right to have a roof over your head. In popular movements they work according to the three Spanish T's: trabajo (work), techo (housing) and tierra (earth). The church teaches that every person has a right to all three.
Pope Francis, October 2015 interview in "Straatnieuws"
Our FORMED Recommendation for the Week
eBook (184 pages) -
Arise from Darkness: What to Do When Life Doesn't Make Sens
Well-known author, psychologist, and priest Fr. Benedict Groeschel draws on his own years of personal experiences in dealing with people's problems, tragedies, and "darkness" as he offers help and guidance for any Christian troubled or burdened by life. If you are struggling with fear, anxiety, grief, loss of loved ones, hurt, anger, or anything that makes life difficult or the road through it dark, then this book was written for you. Fr. Benedict offers practical suggestions on how to keep going and even grow with the help of God's grace, even when this help seems remote. The Christian response to the problem of evil and suffering began with the cross of Christ. Our answer is inseparable from the Cross—from Jesus's own encounter with evil and his triumph over it. In this light, Fr. Benedict recalls some of our most frequently encountered sorrows and griefs: the failure of friends, financial and personal insecurity, the failure of some in the Church, our own inconsistent behaviors and weaknesses, and the death of loved ones. As we examine these painful experiences, he shows that we can find solutions in the Gospel and in the lives of saints, heroes, and very brave ordinary people.
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Sent by Fr. Ed Blanchett on Friday, October 12 at 3:00PM