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Archive for the ‘Homelessness’ Category

I’d like to introduce myself. My name is Karen Jupiter and I am the Director of Development for Good Shepherd Housing and Family Services and a blogger here.  Good Shepherd Housing has been serving low-income working families, the disabled, and the elderly in Northern Virginia since 1974.  We help clients who are faced with homelessness and need help through emergency financial grants, housing and support services.  Support services focus on education around budgeting and credit counseling to empower beneficiaries and stop the cycle of homelessness.  Good Shepherd Housing is proud to have purchased 30 properties to be preserved in the community as affordable housing over the last few years, continuing our legacy of working to eradicate homelessness in Northern Virginia.

When I first started working at GSH six years ago, I assumed that anyone who needed shelter could get it.  I assumed that if you were an abused woman who was fleeing domestic violence there would be a safe place for you to go at anytime.  That is just not true.  There are often months long waiting lists for shelter and therefore many women stay in dangerous situations because there is just nowhere else to go.  Once they do leave, there are significant financial implications as well.  Credit may be ruined, jobs lost and rental history tarnished.  This is where agencies such as Good Shepherd Housing and Bethany House come in.  At Good Shepherd Housing clients come to us not just for safety, but for help fixing the rest of their lives as well.  We offer financial literacy courses as well as connect clients with other resources in the area, such as food stamps, free health services and job banks.  To learn more about the work of Good Shepherd hosing, please visit our website and our blog.

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In the DC metro area, the world of parking and tickets go hand in hand. However, some cities across the country are connecting homelessness with law enforcement. Barbara Ehrenreich wrote an op-ed article for the New York Times exploring the question: Is it now a crime to be poor?

What do you think? Is it acceptable to force homeless people out of certain areas of a city? To fine them or imprison them for being in those certain areas? Or is it okay if there are certain areas of the city they can go? Are we merely trying to hide homelessness? Or hold them to a universal standard?

Whether you’re homeless or rich one thing is true: we all must be held to the same legal standards. However, how many rich people do you see without a place to stay at night? How many people stop to think about the chain of events which led to someone becoming homeless?

Homelessness is a complex issue which cannot be easily solved. However, at the core of dealing with homelessness in our cities, we must keep one thing in mind: every single person is created in the image of God. Therefore, we should treat everyone with love and respect.

Whether you’re a police officer or lawyer, social worker or barista, when we start dealing with issues, we mustn’t forget the faces of the people. We mustn’t forget the homeless are real. We should be careful about how we execute our plans of action. Being strict or firm is fine, but being cold and harsh is not.

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