Homeless During the Holidays
As we end this holiday season, Les Gapay’s op-ed – Homeless During the Holidays – in the LA Times resonated with us and inspired us to re-double our efforts to end homelessness.
Les Gapay is a freelance writer and public relations consultant in California and is a former Wall Street Journal reporter.
For the 6 1/2 years I was homeless, I never had a shopping cart, nor did I have a mental illness or a drug problem. I was just a regular guy out of work in a poor economy. I did writing work while living out of my pickup truck at campgrounds, but I never made enough to rent an apartment until I hit Social Security retirement age and qualified for low-income senior housing. When you don’t have much to start with, it’s easy to fall off the edge.
Mr. Gapay writes.
In recent weeks, the new pope, Francis, has been speaking out about poverty. He says he wants a church for the poor. That will take some doing. I am Catholic, and I went to Catholic Charities when I was homeless and couldn’t get any help getting a roof over my head. Later, a Jewish organization helped me.
I worry that it’s becoming easier and easier to ignore homelessness. My affluent town of Rancho Mirage has low-income housing only because state law mandates it. But although the city is happy to offer sweet deals to developers of high-end businesses, it draws the line at reaching out to the homeless.
Would it be so hard to offer a spot for homeless people to go to during the day for a shower and lunch? The homeless shelters in this long desert valley are relegated to the extreme east and west ends, to North Palm Springs and to Indio, many miles apart. There are no homeless services in between, in the wealthy tourist corridor where people don’t want to see the homeless.
As a Christian, I can’t help but think about Jesus at this time of year when we celebrate his birth. Lately, I’ve pondered the story Jesus told about Lazarus, a homeless man who died at the door of a rich man.
The man had denied Lazarus even the scraps from his table. When the rich man died, he was sent to hell. He cried out to heaven asking that Lazarus dip his finger in water and put it on his hot tongue to cool it, but he was told by Abraham that would be impossible.
Whether you see that story as metaphor or literal truth, it’s worth thinking about this Christmas season.
Concludes Mr. Gapay.
Click here to read the full op-ed.
We live in one of the wealthiest states in the richest country in the world. In 2014 let’s not be like the rich man who let Lazarus freeze to death. Let’s work together to end homelessness for all of our brothers and sisters.