“Their Behavior is Unacceptable”

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The homeless participating in unacceptable behavior after being unable to sleep all night.

This post is part of a series that answers neighbor’s objections to the activity in Anawim.

Although most people who come to Anawim are polite and do all they can to keep the peace, some people do have behavior that is “not acceptable.” Yes, some people drink on the property when we have rules against it. Some people make too much noise. Some people cuss like a sailor (or worse). And, yes, everyone loiters. Loitering is what people do when they don’t have anything else to do.

And you neighbors find this activity unacceptable. But all of this behavior is the same behavior that you participate in yourselves. In our meeting, one of the neighbors complained about people using foul language on the church property, but he couldn’t keep himself from using foul language when sitting in our sanctuary. The behavior that is most complained about is behavior that would seem perfectly normal, if found in the privacy of one’s home.

The problem, of course, is that the homeless don’t have privacy. Trust me, they’d love to have some. They don’t want to have their arguments in public. They don’t want to drink in public. They don’t want to be seen as shameful people, unacceptable. But, like most people, they do certain “unacceptable” actions because they are greatly stressed. But they don’t have a place to do this behavior in private. And that causes them even more stress.

For every person who is mentally ill, being homeless makes it worse. A person who drinks or smokes weed occasionally, spending a long time on the street will increase that activity considerably. For every person with occasional bouts of anger, being homeless makes that worse. The greater stress anyone is under, the small cracks in a person’s life become gaping holes.

What we do is give people limits, to give them reasons to be at peace. We have people who are trained to calm people down and to help them to not do such behavior, at least as much. Some people are too far gone to pay attention to our reasoning. Occasionally, someone is having too difficult of a day to get under control. And we get in some new people who are learning the system. But generally, we are a community of people wanting to help each other, working together. We request patience as we try to get unacceptable behavior under control.

  1. September 18, 2012

    Dave Kinsella

    I used to work for the Salvation Army here in Ireland. It was hard work. I respect what yo guys are doing. Keep up the good work.


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