October 10, 2009

Mercy for the Homeless in San Diego

There has been a big debate in San Diego lately around where to put the emergency winter shelter this year. I know exactly what the shelter operators and the community is going through down there because for years we faced the same type of challenges and debates here in Vista/North County. Here is my take on it...

The old way of dealing with homelessness through emergency shelters, soup kitchens and other human service programs has FAILED. These methods only contain and manage the symptoms of homelessness while creating more impacts in our communities which act like a giant enabling churning system. Sure some homeless get out, but most just churn around in an every expanding and costly system. Then we scratch our heads and wonder why neighborhoods come unglued and we can’t get a winter shelter placed. Take it from an old Marine who’s been on the front lines of this social battle for 18 years here in San Diego County...you need a new battle plan. HINT: Real mercy includes the attitude, the action and the accountability of compassion. Without all three -- a shelter bed and a bowl of soup is merely a "compassion transaction". It all starts with a shift in our thinking....a whole different attitude. Stop compassion transactions and start treating the impacts of homelessness on human beings and communities like the worthy opponent it is.

Chris Megison

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