Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Fear

Fear.

It can block us from accomplishing what we know would be best.

When fears affect judgment, progress and renewal stall out.

Poverty knows all about fear.

We see evidence of fear on a daily basis in the city.

Just look to our streets.

The City of Dallas has taken steps to criminalize homelessness. Panhandling, "loitering" (read here: trying to find a place to simply stop the endless, daily parade of walking to rest just for a while), and other "nuisance" behaviors are now illegal and can result in citations, trips to jail or Parkland Hospital's psyche ward. The condition of being without a permanent place to live can now be regarded as a criminal act.

Because of their schedules, "early out/early in," shelters don't really help much with the problem of fear on our streets.

Business interests fear the poor and homeless who walk our streets, believing that these unfortunate folks will destroy any chance of a Downtown resurgence.

Fear blocks even the best and most innovative development efforts. Just try, as a non-profit organization, to work out a reasonable financing plan on a project aimed at providing high-quality, permanent housing for low-income people, let alone the severely impoverished homeless poor.

Lenders know fear.

For-profit developers are reluctant to focus on affordable housing production, again, to say nothing of real housing for the homeless. They are scared off by the narrow margins, as well as what they fear will be the unique challenges associated with managing affordable projects.

Even the homeless are afraid. They are afraid of the police, ordinary people like me and you, service providers, other poor people.

So, we are left with a situation defined largely by fear, misunderstandings and the inaction of the status quo.

Fear makes it simpler to arrest the homeless, declaring them criminals, than to provide what is really needed: permanent housing with plenty of human support.

I'm looking for leaders who will point us beyond our fear.

3 comments:

Raquel said...

There is no fear in love!

I'll be praying that you find, not just leaders, but lovers. I have faith that they will rise up among you!



Luke 18:1-8

belinda said...

instead of creating fear about everything?? are there really leaders out there like that anymore??

Dean said...

I wonder what would happen if we really made homelessness illegal? If we said to community and political leaders that they had a prescribed period of time to get people off the streets and into some kind of housing before facing stiff fines or even imprisonment (perhaps just impeachment?). Sounds crazy, doesn't it? Just about as crazy as threatening homeless people with fines or imprisonment because they can't find a job or a place to sleep. What is it that we think this will accomplish except to further overcrowd our jails with people whose only "crime" is being poor?

How cooperative and creative would political leaders become if refusing to help alleviate poverty and homelessness was illegal (sort of like "no poor person left behind")?