I had the opportunity to see and witness on site how a homeless group took advantage of a group -of churches -that was trying to help by providing them food , access to their center and offered them many other services as well .All of them were white ,middle age men and women and had addictions ranging from alcohol to drugs .
They robbed the place.I got robbed too.The Sheriff was called in finally after the situation went out of control.
Criminal behavior flourishes with NO WORK, drug,alchohol,smoking addictions .Most of the homeless are pan handlers. I tried to let one help out in the garden picking pine tree cones prior to mowing the area ,after stalking and asking me for money,he showed resistance for work and took off abruptly , with some of my personal belongings gone as well .
He simply did not show any inclinations to physical work after so many years of easy access for food stamps, church food offered in an A/C and recreation center comfortable setting (and offcourse free accomodations in the woods)..He once told me that he saw another homeless stealing a bicycle and did neither stop or report him.They have a brotherhood like affiliation to protect each others .They do not like police either.They beleive in taking the law into their own hands.He himself carried a weapon in his bag(he showed me a BIG knife which really scared and intimidated me).
While at the garden he complained to me that his helongings were thrown away into the canal by another homeless guy whom he said he knew and was going to get revenge .I tried to remind him about how we need to forgive each others .He said he only beleives in the eye for an eye law.
Simply , they were fed for free.Most of them also had access for food stamps.The money they pan handled- or laid hands on- went to buy beer, cigarettes and other illegal stuff to feed their addictions.There was no program on hand by then to rehabilitate them.Most had criminal records
One time ago a man ,who lived in a neglected neighborhood where once I kept a community garden,came to me complaining about his wife who keeps giving him hard time and harasing him at home so he ends up beating her, then she calls the police and he ends up in jail.
I suggested that he comes to me next time she gives him hard time without beating her.He did.I assigned a plot for him to grow vegetables and provided the seeds.The situation changed after he was given a plot to tend and retreat from a domestic argument. Instead of beating his wife he simply took his frustrations off by digging , weeding and spending time at the garden.The criminal behavior was gone .So,if we can provide similar PRODUCTIVE GARDENING opportunities for the homeless to work- under guidance and supervision of a rehabilitation program- in community gardens to produce their own ORGANIC food and eat healthy diets instead of all the junk food and other intoxicating addictives, their life style could change for the better.
There are so many empty lots that could be transformed into productive gardens.There are so many churches , other private non-profit and government organizations with lands donated or available to them or are sitting idle.Why not start programs of PLACING the homeless into work at community gardens and get them trained on farming jobs to heal their addictions first and then let them work at farms to replace the illegal immigrants who soon will be going back home once the ARIZONA LAW becomes nationally applied!
Gardening is a proven therapy in Japan and Sweden.At least we can try to bring the homeless and the gardens meet and see what happens .Idle hands of homeless men and women plus addictions make criminal behavior possible.Busy productive hands , in the garden make, ORGANIC harvests flourish and crimes vanish.Give it a try!