Bureaucracy not the answer

Is good old-fashioned Christian charity dead in Homer?

What if you give a meeting to facilitate charity for the temporary homeless and no one shows? Well, almost no one.

At the last city council meeting, council member Shelly Erickson’s proposal (memo 17-017) that the city approve as an allowable use temporary housing for the homeless, to be provided by local churches, got immediately pitchforked into the Planning Commission wagon as it lumbered by.

The Salvation Army then showed up to inspect the goods, happy to help, if only they could afford to, which, darn it, they can’t. The Planning Commission suddenly realized it was stuck with promoting a useless product, temporary housing, that no self-respecting social-service institution would touch with a 10-foot pole. There’s simply no money in it; hard-luck individuals just trying to avoid freezing to death at night don’t pay the bill.

Health, and safety issues require facilities and personnel, which cost money. Money is derived mainly from public funds. And public funds are released only to those tax-exempt institutions with facilities and a well-developed business plan. So, unless that cold and homeless adult standing outside the church or social-service agency door, pleading for a temporary warm refuge, can be induced to surrender his autonomy in exchange, to agree to participate in long-term institutional care, to be screened for alcohol, tested for drugs, agrees to counseling, acquiesces to mentoring, and accepts a monitored permanent housing arrangement — all requiring additional funding, of course — that person will find the oaken doors slammed in his freezing face.

Welcome, then, Muslin immigrants, to modern America, where old-fashioned Christian charity is too expensive and too dangerous to indulge in. Perhaps you can reboot the system.