Enabling and the Homeless-Part Three

enabling empowering homeless burienEnabling and the Homeless-Part Three
Enabling or Empowering

In previous articles we talked about the difference between enabling or empowering. There are many in Burien that are concerned that sometimes certain things that people do is actually enabling the homeless or addicts to continue in dysfunctional behavior.  In this article we will give some examples of the difference between enabling and empowering.Enabling the Homeless
Giving Money
Almost always the giving of money to the homeless or addicts is enabling. Especially the addict. Addicts/alcoholics most of the time use money given to them to feed their addiction, not feed themselves. The proof of this is that most of the time when you offer to give them food, they will reject it. Some will take it and then trade it for a beer, a ‘favor’, etc. (Of course there are exceptions.) Instead of giving money, offer to give the person begging a meal, take them to get a sleeping bag (a cheap one, invariably they loose them, trade them, etc.). It gives you a chance to interact with them. It lets them know you care for them but won’t let them manipulate you.

Be aware that with all the food banks, free meals, clothing, etc there are resources for them homeless to help meet their needs. Remember many are receiving food stamps. We are not saying they don’t need money to buy certain things. They do, but much better if you buy it for them. How they respond will show if they appreciate the help or if they just want to feed their habit.

Every person that gives money to panhandlers are only making it profitable to panhandle. There are some who see their panhandling is a job. it is not a job, it is trying to get something for nothing. We have offered work to some panhandlers and they say ‘I am working.’ It is much different when it is a person that has obvious disabilities and cannot work.

Illegal/Unsanctioned Encampments with No Guidelines
Tent encampments on public or private property without approval is trespassing. Trespassing is against the law. Tent encampments without guidelines are encampments with illegal activity occurring. Criminals who are homeless, or homeless who are criminals, are attracted to such encampments. They are able to bring items they steal to such encampments. Blatant drinking and drugging occurs. Violence is more likely to occur. Such encampments are not a healthy environment for people to change for the better. They are not good for the residents or society. To allow them to operate is enabling.

Drinking and Drugging in Public
It should be obvious that allowing this type of behavior is enabling and absolutely not good for society. This type of behavior at a minimum is a poor reflection for the city of Burien, and also creates a dangerous environment for residents in Burien. Addicts and alcoholics who have no consequences for their behavior or less likely to ever get help for their addiction.

Enabling the homeless who refuse to take steps to improve their lives, justifying/excusing such behavior, can become co-dependency for those who are enabling.

Empowering the Homeless
Helping the homeless by providing a healthy environment where they are loved, a place where they are continuously exposed to resources to improve their life, helping them get to a place of dignity, a mental state of hope, empowers the homeless, working poor, and the elderly at the edge of being homeless.

Reducing the necessity for panhandling. stealing, deceiving/manipulating to get basic needs met is helpful to the homeless and to society.

Every program that provides services to meet basic needs should if at all possible have social workers available to provide connections to resources to help the homeless, addicts, and working poor. The resources are not for the person of enabling them to continue in unhealthy behavior but to equip them to have the tools to change.

Whatever services are provided for the homeless should have a whole person approach, including ministering to the spiritual needs of the homeless. Individuals who grow spiritually clearly have greater success in overcoming unhealthy mindsets and behavior. Spiritual growth certainly helps to increase hope and a willingness to change for the better.

Some are against services to empower the homeless because they say the homeless ‘take advantage of the services’. The homeless overall are ‘just takers’. The homeless overall are lazy, addicts, and criminals. First off these stereotypes to an extent are true for many who are homeless. In some places it may be the majority. But among this group are those who are very appreciative and who take hold of the help and ultimately change their lives. A taker today may be a giver in the future. None of us know the hearts of others, or know what  God Almighty is doing in the life of an individual. Our responsibility is to empower and if it turns out what we are doing is enabling, we change tactics. Our responsibility is to encourage and love, not determine the heart. Our responsibility is to give hope. Set boundaries? Absolutely! At times deny services because of behavior? Absolutely! But we cannot let the evil deeds of some stop us from helping those in need.

We are not called to like people, but we are called to love people. Sometimes love must be tough. Sometimes love says ‘no more’. This just not let our hearts get hardened toward those who are messed up. Let’s give a helping hand. Let’s do our part to make a difference.

Enabling and the Homeless: Part One
Enabling and the Homeless: Part Two

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