A National Homeless Persons’ Memorial event Monday at Cathedral of St. Peter in Belleville put a human face on the issue of homelessness in our communities.
But while those in need were provided hot soup and treated to a Christmas movie, the event was more than symbolic than anything. At 7 a.m. Tuesday, they all had to leave.
Belleville’s homeless have had nowhere to go since the Salvation Army shuttered its shelter on Main Street in 2009, a fact Monsignor John Myler cited as “a mark against our beautiful city.”
There is no single cause of homelessness. Mental illness and chemical dependency are frequently factors, but not the only ones.
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As such, there is no single municipality, government body, private entity or person responsible for serving the needs of the homeless. Moral and empathetic people all bear some individual level of responsibility, whether its through donations of money, goods or time. Charities and social services can provide professionals to serve deeper issues.
There is no single solution to the problem of homelessness. As Jesus said in the Gospel of Matthew “you always have the poor with you.” It is tragic and frustrating, none-the-less that fulfilling the most basic of human needs remains so politically and socially complicated.
Who, at long last, will figure out how and where to coordinate efforts for the betterment of those in most desperate?
At this time of year, when the need is heightened and the spirit of generosity moves within good people, we ask that those who live in relative comfort keep in mind those who are less fortunate.
And we ask those with influence to act in the spirit of the holiday season and for the entire year forward to ease the burden of who can’t find shelter.