Thursday, October 05, 2006

Board should reconsider lack of support for homeless

By Rebecca J. Boggs

"Not in Our Back Yard" was the cover story featured in Walworth County Sunday published on October 1, 2006.

Linda Akins' cover story about the Walworth County Emergency Homeless Shelter, which has been a collaborative effort of area churches, included some wonderful comments from County Administrator, David Bretl, who indicated that the Walworth County Board had earmarked funds in their 2007 budget to target the issue of homelessness in our community.

How sad that before this paper even arrived on the doorsteps of homes across our community, members of the County Board Finance Committee voted to remove this item from our county budget simply because it was not mandated.

The details were made available in Mike Heine's article "Budget moves without a thumbs up" in The Week, October 1, 2006. I extend my thanks to both writers for their work in keeping this important issue in the front of the public.

My home church, Delavan United Church of Christ, has been part of the shelter rotation since it began and I have volunteered and participated in each rotation.

As a person of faith, I am called to respond to the needs of those in my community.

And as I pursue my theological education as a student at Chicago Theological Seminary, I am called to question the moral and ethical questions raised by the removal of these funds from the County budget, based on the lack of mandate.

While we may not be "mandated" to provide food and shelter to the hungry and homeless, don't we have a moral obligation to do so?

Jesus said that the poor would always be among us. By opening our wallets and our churches, we are able to respond faithfully as we care for those in need. But we simply cannot stop by meeting only the needs of the poor. We must also look to the systems that have failed them. While housing the homeless and feeding the hungry, we tend to the symptoms. We must also look to the disease.

I respectfully ask that the members of the Walworth County Board Finance Committee reconsider their decision. Before making budget cuts simply because they are not mandated, please consider the actions unfolding in the communities you have been elected to serve. While the mandate to house the homeless may not technically exist, you might consider the "thumbs up" response of those in our community as a moral mandate.

The author lives in Williams Bay and is the youth ministry coordinator at the Delavan United Church of Christ. She is an emergency homeless shelter volunteer.


Anonymous Becky said...

Becky said...

I've posted the really long version of this on my blog.

If you'd like to read it, email theweek@theweekextra.com and they will forward your request to me.

As part of the coursework for Public Theology at Chicago Theological Seminary, my classmates and I have been asked to engage in thinking theologically about public issues.

Thanks for the chance to share my view. I look forward to reading yours!

In Peace -
Rebecca J. Boggs

1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Getting the county to provide support for the homeless is not a good idea. Although I believe the amount of funding was only $10,000, the way the county does things, in 10 years the board would be voting on a new $10 million dollar facility to house the homeless.

The group promoting this shelter should spend some energy fundraising. The people and businesses of Walworth are very generous. If you would like examples of similar programs not using government funding. Check out the Mt. Zion House which helps men addicted to drugs and alcohol, Agape house which helps troubled girls and women, and Inspiration Ministries which helps physically challenged adults.

The County needs to get back to basics. They have overextended themselves with little oversight of the funding they are currently providing.

9:20 AM  

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