Friday, October 30, 2009

The Cost of Genrification

A friend and I visted Jesus People USA on Jan 1, 1994. As young guys from Edmonton I'll admit we found the inner city Chicago neighborhood JPUSA calls home quite intimidating. In the past fifteen years Uptown has gone through a process of gentrification. Some of the new upscale neighbours objected to JPUSA's homeless shelter.
The “powers that be” had listened to and heard the relentless pleas from a very fearful and merciless exclusive club. This group represented a relatively small number of people determined to promote hatred, fear and deception by painting negative pictures like violent ex-offenders living near innocent children. Nothing was investigated and propaganda had been used as a powerful tool, and the result was “no more funding!
JPUSA hasn't given up on the men from the shelter. They're still working and advocating for the homeless in their neighbourhood.
Digest this utterly false statement: “We’ve served our time and have been set free to live as a productive member of society.” Once a person is greeted into the cold angry cells of shame, that person’s rights are vanquished and they become a lifelong slave to societal fears, hypocrisy and prejudice. Guilty for life has been tattooed upon the foreheads of ex-offenders. The first strike law of public housing, mandatory minimum sentences, parole, the internet and the easy availability of criminal background checks have placed huge X’s upon every felon’s back. Sadly, the result is that housing and employment have been made virtually impossible. Thus, an endless cycle of grief and recidivism begins, and within that context, the lost sheep need to hear the Lord’s message of love, grace, restorative justice and hope.
Read the full story: Dejected but not forgotten

- Peace


Linea said...

I've visited there a couple of times when in Chicago during the last couple of years. One of the pastors there is a good friend. I love that place and what it is doing.

Anonymous said...

Gangs run the neighborhood and the powers that be go after the homeless - a chilling application of the broken window policy? Makes you wonder who the real crooks are.

I begin to understand why Jesus told his disciples the remember the world hated him first.