Story last updated at 1:20 p.m. Saturday, August 31, 2002

Homeless shelter needed
If some good could come from the unfortunate death of Homer's most visible long-term homeless person, Dave Davis, it may be a reminder for our community to revisit the question of our responsiveness to the shelter needs of those Jesus called "the least of these our brethren."

Thanks to the efforts of volunteers with the Salvation Army, the Homer Food Pantry, Share the Spirit and others, great strides are being made in the area of hunger prevention. But emergency shelter for the homeless and poor in our area does not seem yet to be as effectively organized.

Some of our volunteer organizations and churches offer emergency shelter using hotel rooms. Some kind individual citizens in Homer offer longer-term lodging to a poor person. Still, there have been cases of families living in cars, teens sleeping in public restrooms, and others getting into enough trouble to use the hospital or the police station as last resort for shelter.

We must recognize that there is no single solution to the problem of homelessness. I'm aware, for instance, that a unique aspect of Dave Davis' personality was his resistance to efforts to get him direct public aid. During some periods of time he preferred sleeping in many of Homer's churches in place of "government" help. For many other poor, this is not the case.

A better option than our community's current situation is to apply for the federal funding that is available to pay both the capital costs of building a shelter and the shelter's operational costs, also. I have heard expressed by some people in Homer a fear that says, "many homeless people would move to Homer if we had a shelter."

This is the same fear from people-of-means, often heard in towns across America when a shelter is being considered. Such fears prove to be false with good management practices.

I believe that God calls on people-of-means to offer those in need "a hand up" not a cold shoulder. I believe that most citizens of Homer, when fully informed, would choose to live in our community made up of compassionate persons-of-means and striving poor persons, instead of a community of persons who are well-off themselves, but "casting a blind eye" on the needs of "the least of these."

If you would help on a team to organize for a more proactive approach to aiding the shelter needs of the homeless in Homer, please write to me at the Homer Food Pantry, 770 East End Road, Homer, AK 99603

Rev. Dan Lush