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Should Houston Follow New York City In Sending Its Homeless Away?

Recently, I came across a newspaper article that discussed New York City’s program to give airplane tickets to certain of its homeless folks, and send them back “home.” As the story explained, many are long-time residents of NYC, but have fallen on hard times. If they can get a relative in their home state or country to agree to accept them, the city will pick up the tab for getting them resettled. I thought it was an intriguing concept. It certainly got me to thinking about Houston and how we address the complicated issues of homelessness here at Star of Hope.

If you have followed my blog, you know that I have had many amazing moments since coming to Star of Hope, and continue to meet wonderful people among our clients. Some of them are families or individuals who can benefit from returning to their hometown, where there are loved ones and friends ready to assist them. In such cases, we work to enable their safe return.

But by and large, we see people who have become homeless here in our city and truly have no place else to go. Even if they had a place, the root causes of their homelessness would still be with them. Without the necessary life change, they would simply be “homeless at heart,” just in a different location.

The lyrics of the current, hit gospel song by Michael English, “I know how hopeless feels, when you’re staring at the bottom of an empty heart,” reflect this need for new life among so many in our society, especially within the homeless community. That’s why Star of Hope is steadfast in its commitment to bringing heart-healing, recovery from addictions, bad relationships and bad choices. We want our graduates to be free of the emptiness they feel, experience the hope that is fundamental to new life and, once again, become independent, productive members of society.

To us, it’s not so much about the CITY they are in, as it is about the CONDITION they are in. Star of Hope works tirelessly every day, to help people have a full heart, a joyful relationship with Jesus Christ and an opportunity to live successfully.

So how do you think Houston is doing, when it comes to managing the challenges that poverty and homelessness present? Express your thoughts by responding to this blog.

Comments for Should Houston Follow New York City In Sending Its Homeless Away?


Name: Ray Schilens
Time: Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hank, home isn't always the right place to send someone, even when they do have someone willing to take them in. I suppose in certain cases this might make sense, but we as Houstonians are charged to help those in need here, and simply there is only one way, through God. Continue to do your great work at Star of Hope and understand that even in our tough economic times you are providing a service that is priceless.

Name: Mandy Thomas
Time: Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thank you for sharing this; it has struck a chord with me. I think you are right -- even if they have a place to go, the root cause of their homelessness would still be with them, so ultimately these relocation programs only help the city, not the person or family. Wherever you go, there you are. This is why SOH is so important; it is not just a handout, it is about hope. Funny ... that word is in the name. :-) Thank you for your hard work.

Name: Peggy
Time: Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It might sound like a simple solution but if the folks had someone who cared and kept up with them they wouldn't be in the homeless situation. Many have no family/friends or have exhausted their help. We need to keep praying, helping, and giving.

Name: Terry Prather
Time: Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hank, I think its a very honorable thing to help pay for them to get back home IF that is what they need and want. Many have left bad situations and have no desire to go back. Others came here after the hurricanes and want to go home. It only makes sense to help them if it is determined that "home" will be a healthy place with support for them as well. Otherwise its our joy and responsibility to take care of the "poor" among us. Its Gods way of keeping our heart soft! Thanks for all you do.

Name: India
Time: Thursday, August 13, 2009

This program would only work if the families of those homeless people would agree and promise to take care of their family member. Whether it be giving them a home, helping them find a job, whatever the case may be, the families should want to help. Otherwise, the program wold never work. I wish that I ha the resources to help the homeless, but I do what I can and I hope that others will also.

Name: Heidi
Time: Thursday, August 13, 2009

My thinking is they need assistance finding out how they arrived at this point in their lives and taking steps that will improve their situation. Sending someone back I don't think is the answer, most people leave home in search of something better. If there was someone to help them at home I think they would have already contact them and found a way back. What you do to help is admirable. Thank you.

Name: Avi
Time: Friday, August 14, 2009

I think its a unique idea. I certianly support the idea, but te fact remins that there needs to be a 'fool-proof" check. If freinds / relatives can help, then it would be easier for people to setup in a new place. However, homelessness is often accompined by joblessness... Thus it has to be careful and sensitive decision to promote such an idea.

Name: Mike
Time: Friday, August 14, 2009

I agree that ones "home" is not always the best place to go to for help in all cases, but some can rely on family and friends in a time of crisis. If separated from familiar support only by distance, then by all means let us provide support to reunite the homeless with the loving support of their home community. Do not automatically assume that all families are dysfunctional at the root and proud independence will triumph all. Sending the Homeless Away is a headline banner meant to equal Abandonment. Take a moment to read the original newspaper article; does NYC advocate forced extradition of the homeless or a chance to go home and restart for some of it's unfortunate residents? I strongly advocate reuniting the homeless with a supportive family or community if only separated by distance.

Name: Hank Rush
Time: Monday, August 17, 2009

I think it's evident that what's best depends on the individual's situation, and is very personal. Our skilled counselors work with appropriate agency and city service partners to determine the best outcome for every individual or family who comes our way. We joyfully help reunite, when that is an option for someone. Sadly, it just isn't for so many. But lives are rebuilt every day, by the power of God and with the the loving work of many staff, volunteers and generous donors. It is amazing to see each one of these lives transformed!

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