Um, yeah. That is a cliché. And there’s two reasons it’s a cliché: one, it is often repeated; and two, it shows an unthinking response.
The thing is, no one who is in a housed community wants the homeless in their neighborhood. The businesses don’t want them in their community, the suburbs don’t want them, downtown doesn’t want them, residence areas don’t want them, industrial areas don’t want them, and even if the homeless find unused wooded areas, they are often found and then moved out of there.
The point is, no one wants them anywhere near their area.
But they have to be SOMEWHERE. Homeless people exist. They can’t just disappear and take up no space at all. It has been tried to make homeless people illegal. But if you make them illegal, you just fine people who can’t pay the fines. You make it illegal for certain people to exist. That doesn’t work. And if we think about that for a second, we know it doesn’t work.
So, how about this. Instead of telling the homeless to disappear, why don’t we give them places where they can exist. Places that will keep an eye on them and help them. Places that will care for them and treat them with respect. Places that will encourage them to use resources that will (eventually) help them to get themselves off the street. Places that will work with the community and work to make peace between the homeless and the community.
We call that place a church. Not just any kind of church, obviously, but a church that does what Jesus did when he was on earth—feeding the poor, welcoming the outcast and making peace. Really, that’s what churches are supposed to do.