In Portland, the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s office released recently a report on deaths that occurred among people who have no known address.
This report admits that the numbers they have are limited and that the report is far from inclusive about deaths of the homeless. For instance, it does not include those who lived on the street, but died in a hospital or a shelter. With these limited figures, the Medical Examiner determined that there were 47 deaths on the street last year. The median age of those dead was 49. Seven were women. There were more deaths in the cold months than in the warm, although hypothermia was an indirect cause in only three deaths. Of these 47 deaths, 29 were caused by drugs or alcohol (only three died from alcohol). The greatest drug killer was heroin, who killed almost a third of those who died on the street.
This is a crisis. People dying young, dying on the street, and such a large percentage of the street population. This is, for the most part, preventable.
The recommendations of the report to the county is to obtain housing for people, to build up a health infrastructure, to inform people of services and to get people help to reduce alcohol and drug abuse.
Of course, the other issue is community. The report mentions that many of these deaths were caused by isolation as much as anything else. Housing is very helpful, but if one is isolated in a house, there is still many of the same issues. If we can build communities among the homeless, give them purpose, give them hope, then changes can be made.
That’s one of Anawim’s main goals: to build community and purpose among the homeless.
There was once a time where Silence was a valued commodity. Where stillness of the day and the night could be embraced and feasted upon as a great banquet.There once was a time when one could travel into the wilderness and listen to the songs of creation. The whispering breeze dancing in and out of the tops of trees or the gentle wind waltzing through the tall grasses of the Meadow. The ancient song of the fowls great and small and the babbling brook, the roar of the waterfall and the rumble of thunder in all its wonder and mystery and the absent din of humanity.There once was a time and there was once was a place but they have all but vanished; for mankind on the whole fears the Songs of Creation, for it reminds them of their true place and that there is a Creator greater than them.Faithwalker
Here I lie under the dock of a warehouseHuddled, wrapped in plastic gleaned from a dumpsterThe cold east wind assails my hiding place.Hunger gnaws at my body for I have no money for food;The frozen rain dangles from the planks above me as translucent teeth;How did I get here?Cold! so very cold, but I will survive,For I will not forfeit my life with out a fight.The shelters are full and I was late for the missions meal;So I lay under the dock clinging to what warmth I can, and wait;For the ‘morrow and another day.People creep by in their heated chariotsOthers scurry to the bus;All are headed for the warmth of home and hearth and hot food and laughter and a warm bed.And for this I do hope……
“Ya know I always consider it a treat and a expression of love when I am invited over to someones *house* for dinner and fellowship.
“But I count a real blessing when the invite is to a camp and that the folks fuss over me. For you can see that they had been planning it out in advance. They are giving the best they have. So even if I do not particularly like what it is they are feeding me I eat it anyway and make sure to pour out lots of compliments to the cook.
“It reminds me so much of when Mary Magdalene came before the Lord or Zaccheus or any of the others…….it is a humbling event. It is also a reminder of trust vested in me by them and the Lord as a shepherd.”
By Leo Rhodes, Street Roots Vendor, advocate for the homeless
I am the voice you never hear
If I spoke would you listen?
I am the ugly duckling
Visable in your pretty little world
I am the criminal when I try to sleep
I am the nuisance
Trying to keep dry out of the rain
I am the homeless person
Looking for dignity and a safe secure place