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The Social Stigma Of Homelessness Essay

889 words - 4 pages

In the early hours of the morning on Thursday, January 3, 2013, James G. Fulmer was found frozen to death on the steps of a Nashville Church. James Fulmer was 50 years old, homeless, and physically handicapped (wsmv.com). His tragic story is just one of almost 1,000 homeless men and women will suffer death caused by hypothermia each year. (nationalhomeless.org). Every night in the United States, over 600,000 people encounter homelessness. Their stories are diverse and their paths to homelessness, varied. Many have found themselves on the streets due to domestic violence, job loss and mental illness (npr.org). Some were teachers, accountants, musicians, painters, and even doctors. So many of the homeless population once lead normal lives. Yet, there is a social stigma that views the homeless as lazy, unwilling to work, uneducated and even untrustworthy. In a Capitalist society that places the highest value on image and the almighty dollar, there seems to be little desire to interact with these “outcasts”.
According to a recent New York Times article, there are people in New York with multiple jobs that still cannot afford to pay the rent on a apartment in the city. Therefore, many remain homeless and must find relief in one of the city’s shelters. (nytimes.com) The New York Times states that, “Advocates of affordable housing say that the employed homeless are proof of the widening gap between wages and rents — which rose in the city even during the latest recession — and, given the shortage of subsidized housing, of just how difficult it is to escape the shelter system, even for people with jobs….the jobs aren’t enough to get people out of homelessness” (nytimes.com). What we see modeled in New York City is a disturbing display of classism at work. In a culture driven by capitalism, men and women who suffer from financial hardships are left to roam the streets, unable to pay the exorbitant rent prices that are driven higher and higher each year.
The church, Biblically commissioned to care for the poor and downtrodden, is largely absent from fight to end homelessness. While there are some congregations who participate in weekly homeless outreaches, many churches seem to be more interested in the politics and presentation of “church” rather than doing the work of the Father. In my own city, Nashville, the local Rescue Missions works with 177 different church congregations to provide shelter and a meal most nights of the week. Still, with over 1,00 churches in Nashville (world-guide.org), “only 10 to 15 churches pledge to open on any given...

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