What if ordinary people wanted to take homeless people into their homes?

Is this as hard as we think?

Could we organize a way to help each other do this?

Twenty-nine years is a long time to care for the homeless every day, and there seem to be more homeless people in need of shelter today than when we first started. So, what is the solution to homelessness, and what are we really doing to address the problem of people without homes? Three words come to me again and again as I conclude that in order to help some people, the helpers have to extend themselves beyond traditional thinking. We have to face the realities of sacrifice, service and suffering.  Can we do this looking through the lens of individualism? Absolutely not!   Do some of us with homes believe we have anything we can say or do that will help homeless people, or must we relegate the solutions to this problem to the professionals and the agencies? I believe that there are some people who want to do more and also have the will to try new forms of hospitality. Don’t we all want to love our neighbors in reality, and not merely in the abstract? Really, this is an old form of hospitality.  Philoxenia—loving strangers.  When Paul wrote to the Romans to “practice hospitality,” he was referring to a practice of taking travelers into the family home—of treating strangers like family for a day.  Why is it that “the old way that is now the new way?”  When did we stop treating strangers like family, and why? Maybe the role of organizations like Good Works is to use our experience and perspective to create new models for those who want to try things they have never done before.

So, here is a new idea for addressing the problem of homelessness: some people with homes, who have the desire and ability, should take homeless people into their homes.
(To read more about this vision,  click here


– Keith

1 Comment

Filed under Food for thought, Wrestling with issues of perspective

One response to “WHAT IF ?

  1. Hylie Voss

    Why I took in a homeless woman

    Three years before I married, I moved to Lufkin, a town in East Texas. I was related to a lot of people there, but I was lonely living by myself. My pastor’s wife called me one day and apologetically explained that she was looking for someone to take in a 19 year old woman and her 6 month old son fleeing an abusive relationship . I instantly said I’d take them. They lived with me for a year and a half. I was surprised that some people criticized me for doing it. I wasn’t the least afraid to take them in, because I had worked at Good Works, and I had a sense of what to require of her to make it a successful relationship. She had no money, so instead of rent, I required her to take on household responsibilities and to work steadily on her GED, which she proudly accomplished. When she balked at my insistence that she begin to go to college–I said, ok, you can just become a regular roommate, and start paying me rent. She decided to get married instead.
    I hadn’t been afraid to take her in, because I knew that the church that referred her to me would be a support system to us in our relationship (not counting the few who were aghast that I would do such a thing). There were tense moments to be sure: when the baby’s father came at 3 am and insisted on taking the child for his visitation at that very moment; when I confronted her for tossing cigarette butts all over the back yard; when her chronically homeless sister who slept for 4 months on our couch had her 4 children over for visitation. But tensions were far overwhelmed by happy memories: watching kittens being born in my closet–the first one she named Nike because it was born in my shoe; decorating for Christmas together; her boyfriend and the baby playing metal mixing bowls upside down like drums. Having them with me met a need for me too–while they were there, I wasn’t so lonely anymore.

    Take a homeless person into your house? Yes, this thing can work. With a good support system behind you, don’t be afraid to try it.

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