Homeless Issues #4

When I, Ron Sachs, was homeless,  I was very appreciative of any and all help I could get. Some very small but very big when received in a distressed state. When we had our Homeless Coalition, E.S.G.V.C.H., in So Cal, we had about 600 persons who were registered with us the last year I was there. Out of the 600 persons, I can count on my fingers the people we got

off the street into jobs, children in school, and gave them a new start in their journey in life. I am asked, “Is that cost effective?” is that “effort effective?”

My friends, if your the one, IT IS! How can we chose who is to be helped? They are all our brothers and sisters in emotional, financial, and educational distress.

I received the following from “Pastor Frank” a food provider, a friend to those in need, and a spiritual leader ready to listen to those who want to “spill their guts” and in need of a shoulder to cry on.

“Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys”.  These are the words I said to my Senior Pastor as we sat in his office drinking the day’s first cup of coffee early this morning.  I was, of course, referring to the recent revelation that the transitional housing organization “Krystal Lighthouse” has been scamming and swindling homeless folks, not only in our area but all across the western United States …for food stamps?

Krystal Lighthouse, however, was not the only thing I was referring to with my good guys, bad guys comment.  I have loved, cared for and served drug dealers, wife beaters, pedophiles, killers and all sorts of scurrilous characters; as have you if you are out there serving our growing homeless population.  I have begged and pleaded to help get a man into a rehab program only to learn he was arrested for child rape less than a week later. I have fed a mother and her children only to see the children taken away by CPS and the mom charged with pimping out her children (9 and 11) to the highest bidder.  I have seen groups looking to make a profit on the backs of the poor and homeless…and some…doing so in the name of God.  I have heard many making promises to desperate people that they didn’t keep…Me included.

Yes it can be ugly; impossible to tell the monsters from the saints.  In the process of serving and caring for the many wonderful and good hearted people in the homeless community we, daily, come in contact with people capable of behavior that most of us would consider monstrous.

Well…My belief that it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys was further substantiated today.  As some of you have heard, I stopped by the house on Silver Crest after serving lunch at the park.  I met with some of the residents to see if we could figure out a way to help keep them sober and off the streets as Krystal Lighthouse crumbles around them.

While there I was caught up in a police raid.  I was dumbfounded and greatly saddened.  I sat there (not allowed to stand) along with a handful of recovering, former homeless friends, that truly want to stay sober and defeat the demons that have haunted them for decades.

Although my companions seemed inured to the treatment, I couldn’t believe the indifference to the humanity of the group the police displayed.  I don’t mean to be hyperbolic and I’m in NO WAY equating Placer P.D. with any group or actions, but I made this observation: I see how historically, horrible things have happen to certain populations in a society.  To these officers, who had complete power over us, we were not human.  I’m not even sure we rated as animal.  I can’t even say they were rude.  Rude is what you are to other people.  It was just three big uniform clad guys with guns ransacking and searching at will, while another big guy with a hand on his gun stood watch over a pastor wearing a goofy hat and a group of scared people clinging to faith and sobriety by a thread…People who for a few weeks caught a glimpse of hope.

I’m tired so I hope you can make sense of my ramblings.  I’m sad, brokenhearted really, and I don’t know what to do with my great frustration.  Our friends: can’t sleep in public, camp in city limits, have no shelter and now after being duped by Krystal Lighthouse are subject to regular raids and harassment because they are not wanted in the neighborhood fate has brought them to.

I’ve admitted that many that we serve are less than perfect…but they all have a story…most have profoundly troubling early life stories that leave me wondering how they do as well as they do.  Regardless of the story or lack there of, they are human.  We all are human.  I pray I am wrong and those in law enforcement everywhere realize this.

I’ll lay down to sleep tonight, roof over my head, comfortable bed, next to a wife who loves me…I realize how truly blessed I am.  Out there…across town, someone has been abandoned by friends and family, penniless, homeless and hopeless.  Addicted and afflicted they rest weary bones on hard concrete…just as human as I am.

Peace and Grace,

f. jay gates

Director Of Worship Ministries, Cold Springs Community Church