Today, I bought breakfast for a homeless kid on my way to work.
It broke my heart. His name is Wes. He's probably 22. Poor family. Foster Care. Homeless. Radial nerve damage, so his right hand doesn't work correctly. No drugs, no drinking. $800 in court fines (auto related issues from his brother). No way to get a job, because there's no address. No way to do manual labor, the hand simply doesn't work. He can't get in the hostels because there's a lottery.
We talked about the fines. His brother died in a hit and run, and the perpetrator fled to Mexico. Because of this, he has not been charged. Because of this, the family cannot claim any victims benefits from the state. Even a 'reckless driving' charge would allow them to make the claim. But a year later, no charges are filed. He got the fines while at home for his brother's funeral, using another brother's car, and the car having some sort of issue with it.
I gave him breakfast and some money to stay in a hostel tonight. All people tell him is 'Good Luck', and even though I vowed not to say it, I ended up doing it anyway. What else can I do?
What breaks my heart is that this story is repeated, ad nauseum, in this city. There are hostels, housing missions, and city programs, and it's not enough. There's not enough. In a city with empty houses, open store fronts, even a homeless village, there's no place to put people. This kid could have a chance, with some resources and some opportunity. There's none to be had.
The other day, I posted in jest on my Facebook Wall: "The United States should invade the United States and win the hearts and minds of the people by building roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, and putting locals to work." I'm no longer certain this is a jest. Of course, the US doesn't have any oil anymore.
I learned a great word today (from Oral Robert's gay grandson, Randy Roberts Potts
: Mendacity. An untruthfulness in pursuit of making things all right. I think that if we ignore that we have some huge issues to wrestle with, we are being mendacious. I'm one of the worst at it.
Randy Roberts Potts closes his sermon with this wonderful bit: "In every lie there is a yearning for the truth. In every lie there is a yearning for a world in which things get better. In every system of mendacity, there is an optimism that is expecting a miracle, there
is a sense of hope. Hang on to that hope, live in your truth honestly and openly."
When I was telling Wes good luck, I was engaging in mendacity. I was hoping the universe would take care of him, when I know it probably won't. I was hoping someone else would step up and help him more than I could. They probably won't. I was thinking that things will turn around for him, and they probably won't.
Well, perhaps I can't help him, but maybe I can help someone else. Maybe the optimism and hope in my mendacious replies will turn into action. For this we pray.
Here is one resource I've found about homelessness. I'll be referring back to it later: http://www.portlandonline.com/phb/index.cfm?c=30140
Thank you, whymc
, for sharing your unease at our current situation. I think identifying the problem is the first step.