It seems that the good Reverend takes exception to the City of Dallas' efforts to, as he says, "criminalize" homelessness. He objects vigorously to the recently enacted panhandling ordinance, saying that the way to address the problems facing the homeless poor is not by writing citations or hauling folks off to jail for a few hours.
No, Joe wants us to consider alternatives like adequate funding for mental health services, substance abuse treatment, counseling and permanent supportive housing development. You know, approaches that actually work!
Joe's a unique guy in these parts.
But, he takes it further. He argues that addressing homelessness in these more comprehensive and pro-active ways will be just as good for Downtown business and redevelopment as it is for the homeless. And, get this, it will cost a lot less with more return on investment than our current approach.
I agree with him on all counts! Joe's just right.
The needs are clear. The cost-benefit analysis for Dallas lines up with the experience and data of other cities we've studied. The fact is, it is just cheaper to work with and care for our homeless brothers and sisters than it is to fine them and treat them like they are criminals.
Not long ago, in response to the City's crackdown on the street population, Joe opened his church's parking lot at night to his homeless neighbors so that they could bed down in safety for some rest. Interesting, this notion of parking lot as sanctuary, don't you think?
It is my understanding that in a recent Sunday morning sermon to his congregation ("Living Out in the Open," October 14, 2007) Joe noted, "We are up to four Porta-Potties now – a new way to measure church growth!"
This guy is a creative, honest spokesman for what is simply right for our community.
Here's my prayer: that more communities of faith would begin to employ significant metrics, like Porta-Potties, when measuring their growth as congregations.
Keep speaking truth, Joe. We love you over here!