Malachi's Woes!

I write this lamenting over a friend of mine. We'll call him Malachi.  
I write this lamenting over the prejudices and inequality of the "war on drugs"
I write this lamenting over the cruel and racist policies of mass incarceration.  
I write this lamenting over those experiencing homelessness and their struggles to escape its vicious grip.  
I write this as another illustration of what I detailed in my recent post: It's Political: The Punishments Do Not Fit the Crimes!

Malachi was homeless, actively seeking an apartment. He's around 60 years old, has congestive heart failure and a few other ailments. I've known him for over 15 years now and most people view him as this happy gentle giant who is always friendly and kind.

Last week I got a call from someone I network with; he was looking for Malachi because his name had finally "come up" on the housing database which means he's eligible for subsidized housing, immediately. I was overjoyed for him. It w…

Adjustable Laws! ...the punishments do not fit the crimes...

Sometimes it's hard to choose which word is most appropriate:
It's ironic!
It's hypocritical!
It's mean!
It's unequal!
It's unfair!
It's blatant discrimination!
It's classic bullying of the poor and disenfranchised!
It's traumatizing an already traumatized people!
It's how the power of money and gentrification takes pleasure in blatantly squashing those without money or assets!
It's demoralizing!
It's mass incarceration in action!
It's kicking someone in the face who's already been knocked down repeatedly!

What is this photo and what am I writing about? 
This brief illustration and the photo sums up what I was trying to articulate in my last post:"The Punishments Do Not Fit The Crimes!"In that post, I attempted to illustrate how those experiencing homelessness are criminalized! I attempted to show, through my observations, how unfair and unjust it can be! I attempted to illustrate how the odds are stacked against my friends at CCO an…

It’s Political: The Punishments Do Not Fit The Crimes

In part 1 of my "It's Political" thoughts, I wrote about how our men’s shelter abruptly ended in 2004, causing a lot of trauma among my friends experiencing homelessness. I wrote about how my eyes were opened when I witnessed firsthand all the corruption and deception. I also witnessed the ugliness of many wealthier neighbors, who rallied together with the sole purpose of making the “homeless problem disappear”. By seeing all this blatant bullying by those with power, and by also feeling dismayed, it caused me to ask how I should react as a human being and a follower of Jesus. 

This post continues out of that writing! 

My new position took me more into the neighborhood and I also started visiting some people I knew in Cook County Jail. As a result, I started seeing more of what was really going on. I’d noticed so much already, but with this change, I started seeing and studying how enormous and shocking the disparity is. I saw firsthand how America’s infamous “war on drugs…

It’s Political: My Own Self Realization

Trust me when I say, I wish it didn’t have to be political, but it is and there’s no escaping it! 

I wish we could just simply house the homeless, feed the hungry, visit prisoners, give those thirsty a drink, visit the sick and clothe the naked without fuss; but let me tell you, it ain't that easy!

When I first came to Chicago 21 years ago, when I first started working with those experiencing homelessness, I was very naive and my views on homelessness were somewhat one dimensional. In my naivety, I thought politics would never rear it’s ugly head because it was all about spreading the gospel, providing “3 hots and a cot”, giving away coats and welcoming strangers. All that is great, but in my naivety, I thought I could easily separate myself from anything political, I thought I could divide the two into vastly different worlds where they never needed to meet! I was very wrong!
In my naivety, I truly believed I could help and assist Chicago's “least of these” with direct aide with…

Embracing the Chaos

I'm writing this as a personal reflection about some of the ways I've been challenged or some of the things I've learned in the past year. 

I've just gone through a season where it seems everything isconfusing, chaotic and crazy. This craziness is exemplified because I’ve dedicated my life to living in a community and working with and around those experiencing homelessness.
The cries of desperation and pleas for survival over the cold months has been my experience every single year I’ve lived in Chicago. This insanity and chaos embraces Christmas, the month of December and goes well into the new year! Yet, I’m happy to say, this season has also always been a great time of blessing and being uplifted. But, it's not for the usual reasons.
During this past year, I have been challenged to embrace some attitudes in new and different ways. I’ve often heaped unnecessary guilt and shame upon myself because I tend to find fulfillment or meaning in things that make others quest…

Getting Identification!

Many reading this may wonder why I’d waste my time writing about getting identification. You may ask: what's the big deal about getting an ID? It should be easy! Such a task should be an easily-obtained accomplishment, and the truth is, for most people like myself it is simply an aggravating nuisance interrupting our occupied lives! 

Yet, for those living in poverty, for those who are homeless, they are struck by numerous debilitating complications and barriers, often making the process almost impossible!
For several months we’ve been trying to help one elderly gentleman get his State ID. He came to CCO with nothing! His case isn’t unusual, as many people come to us with nothing or next-to-nothing. No State ID. No Driver’s License. No birth certificate. No Social Security Card. No Passport. No DD214. No income. 
They want these documents, but for various reasons the hurdles are enormous! Did you know that opportunities like housing, benefits and employment fade away because people do…