A month spent in their shoes in winter would get your mind straight.
In Bay County, the Panama City Rescue Mission is a private, faith-based mission, doing it's best. It is situated in our downtown, near the law offices, the courthouse, across from the water, bordering the black section of Panama City.
I can tell you that I prefer to shop downtown for my groceries, and during the year or so I worked for an attorney close by, always spending my lunch hour shopping nearby, I have never been asked for a hand out (except once), or been treated badly or intimidated for any reason. I've always felt safe.
Recently there has been a blitz of pressure on the mission to move the people out of downtown (so the valuable property on the water can be sold at a higher price), to the boondocks up on 231 by the city of Panama City. Mayor Brudnicki just cannot have the homeless on his streets.
Complicated and unnecessary plans to move them to a compound near two public schools (actually four if you really want to take a walk, near a liquor store, a convenience store and a Hungry Howie's and the prison), with all manner of public services and counseling) were recently quashed by our sheriff. That's good.
The Greyhound bus terminal is downtown, if they want to leave.
But think of the homeless and why they are in fact, homeless. They are mentally ill, the one-paycheck-to-disaster people (employable but homeless), those who are rolling stones by nature, disabled veterans from a variety of "wars", addicts and alcoholics, and I met one couple with a baby and one in the oven at the ER one day, who came from the cold midwest to enjoy the more clement weather and to suck off the teat of the state. Mom was neat, clean, the baby in the carrier spotless (with a sniffle), and Dad was unemployed and happy. Maybe this is the problem. Like it or not - this family were able to find lodging, and not at the mission, crowding out one or two who needed it most.
Curiously, I have never seen anyone making a drug deal downtown; I've seen a couple of hookers but they seemed to be familiar and perhaps residents. Public drunkenness doesn't seem to be an issue. Not that I've seen.
The mission wants to expand downtown. I like that. There is need. Brudnicki and the city fathers need to allow Pastor Billy to follow his divine guidance and sell and relocate or not.
I don't know...Pastor Billy seems to have the situation well in hand except that the mission needs to expand.
But don't treat these people like criminals. They are citizens! Most of them, anyway. They have rights like "we" do.
And there, but for the grace of God, go I. (And you.)
If you want more information on the current status of the Panama City Rescue Mission, please check the Panama City News Herald.