What do you do when a homeless person asks for money? How often do you give it to them?
I ask because I've heard so much conflicting advice in this area:
Some people say we should never give money to people who live on the streets as many of them are addicted to drugs or alcohol.
I've heard other say that if a person is truly asking for money because they're hungry they should encouraged to use the social services already provided - soup kitchens, etc.
I've even met at least one person who believes that we shouldn't worry about how any money we give to a street person is being spent, that it's the action of giving and caring for them that really counts.
According to the research I've seen between 1/3 and 1/2 of homeless people are mentally ill (as compared to 4% of the general population), and another 1/3 are addicted to drugs and alcohol. The rest of those who become homeless tend to be individuals or families who stumbled upon some bad luck - a sudden illness that wiped out their savings, layoffs at work.
I know that the "common sense" answer to this question is to look at each request on it's own and to follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit. And I'm comfortable doing this...at least for the most part.
I'd like to take this conversation a step further, though -
How much personal responsibility should be expected from a person who is mentally ill or addicted to drugs or alcohol?
How much personal responsibility should we as Christians have to help them?
What have you done? What do you think we should do to help?
(I apologize if this post is a little disjointed....this is something that has really be weighing heavy on my heart).
Labels: Culture, Social Justice