Hospitality for the Homeless
Matthew Barnett, who runs the LA Dream Center said they have 700 homeless FAMILIES living at the Dream Center on the family wing.
Everyday we see more and more homeless people coming into the Baton Rouge Dream Center Cafe. Over the last year we have seen a few families that are living in cars.
These are not welfare families, most are people who were laid off from their jobs, then they lost their home, maybe no extended family to take them in, or came south looking for work someone told them was available here but wasn't. Scenarios like that, are what we are seeing.
Did you know that Louisiana has one of the highest populations of homeless youth?
There are currently over 2,000 kids listed as homeless in the East Baton Rouge parish school system alone. Some sleep on a friends couch, some stay with relatives and some sleep on the streets. Many of them turn to prostitution in order to survive. We have met many teens that trade sex for a place to stay.
What's really sad is there are very few shelters for the homeless child and/or the homeless family.
Most homeless shelters accommodate single males and some accommodate single females, over 18 years of age. Very few will take minors or family units. The two fastest growing segments of the homeless population.
Over the years of getting more and more involved in outreach to prostitutes, strippers and people caught in the sex trade industry, we have learned of another segment of our population that has no where to go, that is the rescued sex slave.
The rescued sex slave needs long term, extensive help to recover from what they have been rescued from. But there is very little safe housing for the people that need it the most.
Another issue faced by the homeless sex trade victim and homeless youth is the lack of identification. Rarely, do I encounter a youth with any form of ID and sex trade victims never have ID. And the irony is that every shelter I have ever called requires at least an ID card or SS#.
I truly believe that this is the time for the church to really look closely at how they can meet this dire need. How many of us would open our homes to a homeless teen? A homeless family? Are we positioning our selves to be able to meet, get to know and help a homeless youth? What more can we do as the body of Christ to confront this growing problem?
Right now, we can start being the solution. We don't need to wait on the government to attempt to fix this problem years down the road when it's out of control and everyone is screaming for something to be done.
Christian singer Natalie Grant has started an organization that is getting this ball rolling. This is from her organization, HOMES project, web site, http://www.thehomefoundation.net
We are working in conjunction with other anti-trafficking agencies to see an end to modern-day slavery. The H.O.M.E.S project will provide assistance for those groups working to establish shelters and safe-havens for trafficked victims. There is so much focus on international trafficking–and such a need– but very little is being done here in the US to provide services for trafficked victims. Did you know that there are currently less than 100 beds for trafficked victims identified in the United States and it is estimated we have close to 100,000 victims/year? This project will help those providing refuge to victims identified in the U.S. by offering hope, opportunity, mentoring, empowerment & spiritual support through various educational and credentialing services specifically for shelters dedicated to trafficked victims. Please pray for this project & pray for those undertaking this huge responsibility to provide quality services for these deserving individuals.
Also the coalition that I work under, http://traffickinghope.org, is working hard to build a coalition of faith based organizations, government and no governmental groups, law enforcement, immigration, etc, to work together to find solutions to the housing shortage for victims of Human Trafficking. Money is needed, actual buildings are needed, medical and mental health staff, spiritual counselors, mentors, educators, all are needed.
And traffickinghope.org is also partnering with churches around the United States to train them how to do outreach to prostitutes, how to build a similar coalition in their area, how to start a ministry to the victims of human trafficking right here in America.
All this is a great start. We have got to get housing for homeless families, homeless youth and the rescued victims of Human Trafficking.
Please pray this gets done and please pray about your role in being a part of the solution to this ever increasing problem.