McMinnville’s homeless explain why they opt out of shelters
The homeless people of McMinnville are no strangers to many Linfield students. Several Wildcats do their best to say hello or offer money, food or other supplies. The homeless are a part of the community that are most often overlooked, but as winter nears and the weather turns colder, some students may be wondering where these people can turn to for shelter and warmth.
Shelters and rescue missions provide meals, a place to stay and resources to help troubled individuals get back on their feet. But most do not know the rules and restrictions that go along with the assistance that is offered at such establishments.
Two homeless men named Steve and Daryl can usually be found on the front stoop of the True Vine Christian Fellowship church on Fourth Street in McMinnville. They choose to sleep there instead of a shelter, rain or shine, for a list of reasons.
“We have nowhere to get off the street that’s legal. Being legally able to sit here is really quite nice,” Steve said.
The True Vine Christian Fellowship church is the only location in town that allows them to stay there.
Another factor in their decision to steer clear of the shelter are the rules that are enforced on all receiving help.
“The reason why it didn’t work for me is because I have a bad memory, and I kept taking my cigarettes out of my pocket. And the people that are there to monitor the place, that’s breaking the rules. You aren’t supposed to take your cigarettes out of your pocket until you’re outside. I can’t remember those rules, so I had to go,” Steve said.
He continued to explain that if a homeless person were trying to enter a rescue mission, they are not allowed to be in a romantic relationship unless they can show legal documents proving that they are married.
It is also required that each person arrive at the shelter at a specific time every night, attend meals at a set time, search for a job every day and attend drug and alcohol meetings if necessary.
The homeless are not allowed to bring in soda and must agree to random Breathalyzer tests. They must take a urine analysis test upon entering the rescue mission program that allows them 30 days of shelter, food and other resources until they must leave.
Ellen Allen, a volunteer at the Yamhill County Gospel Rescue Mission, confirmed that all of these rules apply to those seeking the mission’s assistance.
“There’s nothing in the rules that says you cannot have an outside life,” Allen said.
She believes it is necessary for the mission’s participants to follow the rules in order for everything to run smoothly. Allen, along with many other volunteers at the mission, is truly concerned for the well being of the homeless population in McMinnville.
“They’re treated like they’re dirty and that’s not right,” Allen said.
In Allen’s opinion, the reason that not every individual complies with the mission’s rules is often stubbornness.
“When it comes to men, they are more set in their ways. They want to do what they want to do, when they want,” Allen said.
In contrast to Allen’s thoughts, Steve and Daryl are still convinced that the rescue mission’s policies are not realistic for everyone.
“We’re not young, looking for work, and (we are) not walking and talking like them. We’re not pretending to be Christian,” Steve said.
When it comes to Steve and Daryl, staying true to themselves is more important than a warm bed.
Kate Straube/Photo editor