A pastor in Nashville, Tennesse is working to raise money to build tiny houses for the homeless. These houses would not have running water, but there would be a communal bathroom and showers in the “development” where these tiny houses would exist. What’s even better than this? According to WHEG Memphis, Pastor Jeff Obafemi Carr has exceeded his fundraising goal of $50,000 in just over one month.
Why is building tiny houses for the homeless such a great idea? Besides the obvious, which is that this is what Christians in this country SHOULD be doing, legislating the homeless away hasn’t worked. It will never work. Yet, cities keep passing these laws that basically make it illegal to be homeless, without regard to just how difficult it is for the homeless to get back on their feet.
What’s happening in these cities is that they see the homeless as a blight on the landscape. It must be eradicated because what will people think if they see homeless people in this neighborhood, or that neighborhood, or in this park, or that train station? The horror. So they make it illegal to feed the homeless, and they make it illegal for the homeless to sleep pretty much anywhere. All the while, they’re making the problem of the homeless in their towns worse, not better.
An article in Cracked, told in the first person, sheds light on how hard it is to once again become a productive member of society after you’ve become homeless. It’s expensive. It’s impossible to nail down a job because you don’t have a permanent address. It’s scary. And that’s without accompanying problems, like mental illness or addiction, that make it even more difficult to know what to do, and where to go.
CBS News says that one approach, known as “housing first,” is gaining traction, and has proven to cost less than other methods of dealing with the homeless (including idiotic things, like arresting them for being where they shouldn’t be). This approach gives the homeless a permanent residence first, and then follows that with treatment for addiction or mental illness, and other services these people might need. It’s more effective than providing food and treatment, along with temporary housing, and only moving on to permanent housing if there’s progress.
Of course, there are those that worry that these towns of tiny houses could devolve into Hoovervilles – the shanytowns that dotted the U.S. landscape during the Great Depression. This is one of the things that the anti-homelessness laws are meant to combat, except, as noted above, that works about as well as using your head to knock down a brick wall.
Pastor Carr also has the right idea in terms of being a Christian. This kind of thing is how Christians are supposed to behave. We have a very powerful sect of evangelicals, though, who think the poor and homeless should be swept away, so the rich, powerful and glorious don’t have to see or deal with them. A neat little side benefit, if it can be called that, is that the rest of us don’t have to deal with them, either.
Carr could consider plumbing for these little houses, but that may be something he has to work out later on. Plumbing can make locating these tiny houses a bit more difficult, but the people he serves won’t be entirely without amenities. Kudos to this man for actually being a Christian, and doing the right thing as far as the homeless are concerned.