This letter to the editor appeared in the December 29, 2006, issue of the Township Journal. Her points are well written. Your comments and suggestions on how we can all work together to end homelessness in NJ will be appreciated.
To the Editor: A man died in Sparta because he wasn’t warm enough. He was not warm enough, and he died. In Sparta. In America. This is our shame. Here in Sparta, as in all of Sussex County , there are no shelters for men who are homeless. The police sometimes give our homeless a ride…out of town. But there is no shelter, not one warm, safe place where a man can sleep without fear of dying from the cold.
This man was our neighbor; it doesn’t matter where his last address was or in what town he was born. He was our neighbor and we have failed to take up our responsibility to him, to have in place a safety net. Everyone agrees that it is an awful thing that this man died. But how many of us understand that we are the people he needed?
It is our job, our responsibility, to provide for those less fortunate, to treat our neighbor as we would hope to be treated.
Sussex County has several hundred counted homeless. The Interfaith Hospitality Network provides shelter through volunteers at churches to homeless women, children, and families – but is unable to provide for single men.
This leaves a gap that has caused at least one death. Of cold. In Sparta. Let it be the last.
A shelter, especially for winter, must be found and provided – we can find the space, certainly we can find the money. Can we open our hearts?
The homeless have no voice – let us give them a voice. Let your local politicians know that you care about your neighbors, that you would no more watch a dog shiver to death than a man.
We need to provide shelter and we need to help people apply their compassion in concrete ways. Call, write, vote, pester!
There are homeless people in Sparta. If you see a tent on my lawn, it is there to remind us all that no one should ever die of cold, especially here; in Sparta; in Sussex County; in New Jersey; in America.
Sincerely, Victoria Bell, Sparta