The Associated Press (“AP News”) is reporting that four homeless persons died in Anchorage, Alaska last week, underscoring the city’s ongoing struggle to house a large homeless population at the same time winter weather has returned.  As of yesterday (11/10/2023), more than two feet of snow fell within the city within a 48 hour period.

This brings the total number of persons who have died while living outdoors in Anchorage to 49 for the year (so far), which is a record that easily eclipses the 24 persons who died last year, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

According to Anchorage Assembly Member Felix Rivera, who chairs the Housing and Homeless Committee, Anchorage has pieced together a short-term fix with more temporary shelter beds, but the only way to prevent more deaths is by building more housing. “We’re going to do what we need to do to make sure that folks aren’t dying outside,” says Rivera, “but if we’re not focusing on the permanent solution, then a Band-Aid is going to be worse. We’re going to run out of funds at some point to be able to continue doing these kind of things.”

The AP News article may be read HERE.

My brothers and sisters, whether in remote locations like Alaska or right here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the homeless problem is ever increasing and lives are at stake.

There are no simple solutions when one considers the issues of poverty, uncontrolled migration, the need for affordable housing, a troubled economy, mental illness, drug addiction and even well-meaning organizations handing out “clean” drug paraphernalia and overdose medication (e.g., Naloxone) while genuine help with the root causes of homelessness and addiction are often ignored.

It’s often easier said than done, but sometimes “hard love” is required (but it’s still love).  This writer understands that in the US, all citizens are granted inalienable rights and may not simply be swept up against their will from public areas; however, as in many of our larger cities (e.g., San Francisco, Chicago, Boston, New York) and elsewhere, homelessness, food shortages, drug addiction and the resulting crime have taken over entire portions of our towns and cities.

Unfortunately, it seems that the political decisions and priorities of our elected and appointed government officials result in the enabling of unhealthy, nuisance-causing and sometimes life-threatening activities – in an effort to avoid being considered harsh or lacking compassion.  The question always becomes, when is “hard love” actually more compassionate in the long run than simply helping one’s drug use to be “cleaner” or less risky?

In fairness to the hard-working public servants, there is no simple answer – except that there is only one real Answer, and His name is Jesus!

One thing I know for certain, we are called to pray for and to help (directly or through giving) those in need – who have no place to lay their heads, limited food to eat, and who may be suffering with drug addictions resulting in them either becoming crime victims or resorting to crime to further their needs.  We can do better.  We must!  We must love as Jesus loves!

Jeremiah 1:5 (NKJV)
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”.

Galatians 5:14 (ESV)
“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word:  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

Mark 12:29-32 (NLT)
Jesus replied, “[t]he most important commandment is this:  ‘[l]isten, O Israel!  The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’  The second is equally important:  ‘[l]ove your neighbor as yourself.’  No other commandment is greater than these.”

Matthew 25:35-40 (NKJV)
“‘…for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’  Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?  When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’  And the King will answer and say to them, ‘[a]ssuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’”

Praise Jesus forevermore!

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