Homelessness has become a major problem in the United States.  The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimates that a person must have a working wage of $18.79/hour in order to afford housing.   In 2011 the official poverty rate was 15% which affected 46.2 million people.  The poor are frequently unable to afford housing, food, childcare, health care and education.  Since housing takes a large portion of their income, other necessities must be neglected.   Fifty percent of the cities surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors discovered that domestic violence was a primary cause of homelessness.   They also stated that 16% of the single adult homeless population suffered from some form of severe and persistent mental illness.  

J. F. Sargent was forced into a homeless condition due to some unfortunate circumstances.  He had just moved to Montana after finishing what he called “my worthless liberal arts degree.”  He had no relatives or friends living in Montana, but he did have a job.  His job kept him away from the apartment he rented with a roommate for a week at a time.  He was halfway through his six-month employment contract when he discovered that his roommate’s checks had been bouncing and he had been evicted from the apartment.  As a result, he was forced to live in his car for an extended amount of time while he rebounded from this unexpected backset in his life.  In an article he wrote after this experience he listed “7 Things No One Tells You About Being Homeless.”  

7. It doesn’t take much to wind up homeless
6. Having a job won’t save you “…the second big surprise waiting for you out on the street:  how incredibly expensive homelessness is.”
5. Government benefits aren’t as much help as you think  “…unless you’re in California, Arizona, Florida, or Michigan, you can’t use food stamps to buy food at restaurants.”  This, according to Sargent was significant because the food which you can buy with food stamps must be cooked, which is difficult if you are living in a car or on the street.  
4. Shelters are a band-aid  “Los Angeles is the homeless capital of America, and one-fifth of its homeless are without any kind of shelter at all.”
3.  Your free time becomes your enemy   “. . . the only thing harder than finding a place sleep was finding a place to be awake.”
2.  Your biggest asset is your charm “The more time you spend homeless, the less likely you are to be a charming little rascal. “
1.  Most Homeless Are Young, and They’re Only Homeless for a Couple of Months.  “Only 16% of those without shelter are chronically homeless. . . Almost 39% of homeless people are under 18, and almost half of those are under age 5.”

Jayda Shuavarnnasri,  who was homeless for a short time, wrote, “If you really want to help the next time you see a homeless person, don’t just hand them things.”  She questioned why we are giving.  Is it because we really want to help the person or is it to ease the guilt we feel?  She said that food is not always what is needed.  Often the person needs things like medication, toothpaste, a pair of socks, formula for the baby, shoes, etc.  For this reason she urges her readers to ask what is needed.  She says, “Ask a person their name . . . ask them what it is they might need that you can provide for them. . . Because showing someone respect and being a good helper includes recognizing an individual’s own agency to transform their own lives, even if it’s just for that moment.

HUD polled homeless people about what they most needed.  “42% said help finding a job; 38% said finding housing; 30% said paying rent or utilities; 13% said training or medical care.”

Yes, homelessness is a huge problem.  Abuse of the system by some in the homeless population is also a problem, which our news article for this lesson will reveal.  But does abuse of the system relieve the Christian of his benevolent responsibility?  When should you give?  To whom should you give?  How should you give?  How often should you give?  What should you give?  These are all questions that we will hope to discuss as we look at this problem through the lens of God’s Word.

Lesson Objective:  By the end of the lesson the students will see that there is no limit to the extent of Christian love.more clearly understand the problem of homelessness and the Christians biblical responsibility.

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