Time to vent a little. This is for my friends who believe that the poor, homeless, and jobless need to just “get a job” and quit asking for help.
Today I went with one of our guys who was homeless, went through a shelter program, has a caseworker, and now lives in an apartment on government assistance. I went with him because he has short term memory, is an older man, and can’t hear well. He feels that the apartment managers are angry with him. There was a problem with his social security this month. He now has no money to pay rent. Rent is $35, and with the $8 late fee it is $43.
We went to pay his bill. They don’t take a third party check, even from a church. They don’t take cash. He doesn’t have a bank account yet because he doesn’t have enough credit yet. We went to get a cashier check from my bank, which was $5. I was told that they send people to that bank to get cashier’s checks. All in all in order to pay rent we have walked 3 miles and paid extra money. I guess it was a good thing we were there to help.
One mistake increased his rent payment by 33%.
I learned something walking with this guy today. I learned that everybody ought to walk this walk with this guy. For those that think the simple solution for people on the street is to get a minimum wage job and get into an apartment, I suggest you walk with this guy. And this guy was lucky (really he is not but his circumstances may work to his advantage) he had an addictive history–so he has more resources. It was frustrating for me because the whole thing doesn’t make sense, even though it makes sense?
I understand why the apartment does what they do, but I also understand how those without have more obstacles to success than we realize.
The system that “helps” the needy is a monster of bureaucratic chaos. Every time you think that there is light, there is only more paperwork for those who are functionally illiterate. More miles for those who are transportationally impaired. More hurdles for those who are barely able to walk. Honestly, the poor doesn’t need more bureaucratic solutions. They need more friends who have the time to help them
This is where the church can show the love of Jesus.