244 Comments

Speaking from personal experience, I spent 5 years sleeping in a Catholic-run homeless shelter. In addition to sleeping, I was able to shower, eat and clean my clothing. To the best of my knowledge, everything was run on what Popeye would call " the ups and squares." Best of all, they didn't push religion on you.

It wasn't ideal, of course. We had to occasionally deal with a homeless person who had....problems. Those individuals were usually dealt with swiftly. And we also had one abusive employee who was finally fired after it was discovered that she'd been stealing and doing drugs. Other than that, the Vets Outreach at that shelter finally managed to place me in affordable housing.

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In addition to my own personal experience with this, I've done a fair amount of homeless outreach over the years and it's not an easy fix. You don't just slap a Band-Aid on this and call it good.

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Thanks for the additional info on this. obviously the press releases were leaving out a lot of important stuff.

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They do because regulations and ordinances are boring. Persecution is sexy.

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If he was trying to do the right thing and help the homeless, he would have done what he could to fix the issues. But he decided to ignore them and fight with the city instead. Solutions were offered, I’m sure he raised plenty of money, or will for his legal woes, to do the bare minimum required to get up to code, but he’s whining about sitting in court. This is about notoriety, fundraising, and ego, not about helping the needy.

Just because these people don’t have anything doesn’t mean they deserve unsafe conditions. They don’t deserve to be put in harms way because they’re down on their luck or addicted to substances or even criminals, whatever brought them to this situation. They are human beings, they have value as human beings and deserve safety. We really need to stop considering the unhoused as trash. There are effective solutions that our greedy, racist, cruel society refuse to consider, often because of the religious judgement of the folks who are involved.

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𝑰𝒇 he had fixed all of those safety issues, there would have only been one zoning violation instead of 18, and we would have been very much on his side. It appears as though he just wants to flaunt his Christian Fucking Privilege. He thinks that he shouldn't have to address those real safety concerns because he believes the people he is making a show of helping are no better than props for his virtue signaling.

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OK, it COULD be he is just doing it for the 'image' , but I smell $$$. Unlike the almost invisible killers like carbon monoxide poisoning, natural gas leaks, lung disease from bad ventilation from cooking etc etc, I can SMELL THE FUCKING GRIFT from here in NY.

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For years, I helped run a shelter for domestic violence victims, which are technically considered homeless shelters. We had several inspections a year by the state agency that regulated our facility for safety and compliance- including their fire safety subdivision that came in the most frequently. If Avell wants to operate a homeless shelter, he should be held to the same standards as every other shelter. The regulations are in place for important reasons (including rules around communicable diseases and staff misconduct, and countless other rules that actually matter). It’s actually a massive and costly responsibility to operate a homeless shelter, and for good reason - everyday people like Avell can’t just take it upon himself to house people. The reason he didn’t fix the violations is because he had no funding to do so. He probably realized at that point that this venture is much more complicated than simply having compassion. Homeless shelters rely on public funding, and those are grants and contracts that have to be managed, billed, and complied with. See where I’m going? He’s completely out of his depth here.

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"The reason he didn’t fix the violations is because he had no funding to do so."

I smell BEE ESS. I would bet my left nutt that this guy is getting PLENTY of 'funding' from gullible peeps and pocketing every dime. Maybe I'm just in a cynical as shit mood today, but IF this guy was seriously trying to help THEN he would be doing so properly.

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I wasn’t defending him; I was pointing out that it takes a lot of money to actually open and operate a homeless shelter, and there are no shortcuts. Ever notice how there are no totally privately funded homeless shelters? They cost millions to operate each year and they don’t tend to lead to permanent housing, so those with deep pockets don’t like to fund them. That’s why the government does.

My whole point is that this is not a gig for amateurs. You need serious passion and commitment. In other words, you can’t be any wingnut with floor space.

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Jan 23·edited Jan 23

Well, everyday people like Avell CAN just take it upon themselves to house people. You can offer to bring the homeless person back to your house, feed them, etc. But Avell doesn't.

In this way, he is no worse than most of us. But as with some other forms of Christian moralizing, it's not the decisions these folks make that is particularly noteworthy, so much as the holier than thou attitude they take when combined with that decision. Not sharing your home with a homeless person? 'Average.' Not sharing your home with a homeless person while making it a point to declare loudly to the world just how much you care about the homeless and how you absolutely will not let them sleep on the street if you can help it? Kinda makes me want to say 'below average.'

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He can’t house people en masse, is what I meant.

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I did not know this! The headlines should have been: "Pastor arrested for opening up church despite safety hazards." But I suppose that's less clickbaity. I am a little surprised, that since the violations are public record, that no other reporter did basic research to write about it.

Also, now that you've exposed this, I'm wondering, relatedly, why is there a church inside an arcade. Honestly it sounds like a front for something else. At the very least, I'd like to know if the tax-exempt status of the church conveniently helps the taxable status of the arcade.

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Looks like a grift. Smells like a grift. Walks like grift. Its a not a duck.

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According to the recent lawsuit the church filed, the city forced the pastor to open the arcade in the front of the building to satisfy a zoning regulation that only commercial businesses can be in the part that faces the street. He wanted to use the whole building for the church but was turned down for a special use permit until he added the arcade to the front

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I don't see the problem here. If the homeless people die, they're simply going to be with Jesus in heaven because God wants them there. Meanypie bureaucrats just don't understand the greater glory of Jeeeeeeeezus.

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On a similar note, we have stories like this: https://www.inlander.com/news/more-than-200-spokane-churches-were-asked-to-open-their-doors-to-homeless-people-during-dangerously-cold-weather-four-agreed-27303574

When churches were actually asked to open up their doors and help, almost none of them did. Not surprising to see conservative media amplifying the story of a pastor punished for “helping” rather than the hundreds of churches declining to help.

I respect the fact that the priest wants to help the homeless, but the additional details definitely make it clear that he’s in the wrong. Homelessness is a huge issue in the US and turning the topic into another way to amplify your persecution fetish doesn’t help anyone and just takes away from the actual work that needs done to help these people.

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Can you blame them, the way they’re treated when they do help out, like this guy!?!? /s

It is clear that churches, okay certain churches, only provide charity when it benefits them in some way and not out of empathy or any altruism. In a lot of cases, it’s fine because people are helped, but there are too many cases where the people being helped are not being helped in an effective manner or harmed in the process.

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And this doesn't even touch on the potential coercion. How many "faith based" shelters 𝘳𝘦𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘳𝘦 the needy to participate in religious services?

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I fucking HATED that every damn 'free' meal I ever got from the local charities ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS had some damn PRAYER OF THANKS. FUCK YOUR GOD, the food came from people.

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I am partaged about this story. On one hand gas and monoxide carbon are not a joke, on the other DM and me didn't end homeless thanks to two social workers who busted their asses to find us a place. If we were confronted to the choice between an unsafe place and the streets with freezing weather*, we would have gone with the first.

* Try sleeping on a péniche by -5°C when the heater is dead. It's barely better than sleeping in the streets.

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Virtually assured death versus possible death. I can see making that trade-off.

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indeed. I have been there, done that. And I really really really wish for a vengeful god to smite this fucker for what he is doing. And then stick him next to a propane tank and a lit candle for all of eternity. And a clock that just goes 'tick - tick -tick'.

And behind him is a little angle with a pile of bubble-wrap that once in a while goes 'POP'.

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had to look up 'péniche' i think something is lost in translation. But I think i understand your point.

And I too was fortunate that someone helped me get out of the bottomless pit of homelessness. Until you are there you really have no clue how impossible it is to get out w/o help from SOMEONE. And this fucking prick sure as fuck aint HELPING.

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Péniches are notorious for their bad insulation due to the number of windows and the marquise (pilot cabin ?) must be at least partially dismountable to be able to go under bridges in case of flood.

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This needs to be widely circulated by us. We all fell for a story that wasn’t factual or researched! This is what we battle. A cyclone of BS put out by the right for the distractions from the orange monster.

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founding

Reverend Avell, thank you for caring about homeless people and wanting to help them.

Some points of advice:

1. Take a lesson from the most familiar part of the Hippocratic Oath, which physicians recite: "First, do no harm." As a helper, it is your responsibility to take adequate precautions to prevent your efforts to help from causing serious harm. Being sloppy, slipshod, and careless is NOT a legitimate part of helping.

2. Your good intentions do not relieve you from diligently following the law. The laws are written and enforced to protect the public, not to persecute you. To think so is narcissistic vanity and hypocrisy.

3. Your being a Christian does not in any way place you above the law. Even if you are the most wonderful, admirable Christian in the world, that does not put you one millimeter above the law. To think so is sanctimonious pride as well as narcissistic vanity and hypocrisy. It's one of the main reasons that people are increasingly becoming disgusted with Christianity.

4. Don't let opportunistic and self-serving organizations "defend" you. You're just a pawn to them. Clean up your act, clean up your facilities, and do the right thing IN THE RIGHT WAY.

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See??? Joel Osteen was simply obeying the law when he refused to open his megachurch during Katrina. /s

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I said, what does Noah need with life jackets?

Jim?

C'mon Bones it is a boat.

I do very similar things in my line of work and the folks that are presented with problems see them as impositions. Even if their god isn't called into question. It's infuriating that a business would take a month to replace an 87¢ light bulb in an exit sign, but they do regularly. I've seen other comments alluding to this point, and they are correct - if a godlike person wanted to aid people, they would care for them in a correct, thoughtful way. Which is drawn from years of experience in horror and delineated in regulation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_Shirtwaist_Factory_fire?wprov=sfla1

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"if a godlike person wanted to aid people"

They wouldn't be homeless in the first place.

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Yeah a god wouldn't send his children into the world to be eaten by jaguars.

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Fire codes, like all safety regulations, are written in blood. Knowingly ignoring them in operating a shelter like this is, at the very best, reckless endangerment... and the other issues make it sound like this place was a stewpot of potential abuse just waiting to boil over if it didn't burn down first. I honestly hope that the shelter can be re-opened, but it needs to be brought up to code, and it needs to be subject to appropriate oversight. One pastor just winging it is so much less than those people deserve.

Ultimately, though... this whole situation 𝘤𝘢𝘯 rightly be blamed on the city. However much of an ass this guy is, and however deficient the shelter he provided was, the sad fact is that he 𝘸𝘢𝘴 providing something that everyone else had failed to. That's as much an indictment of the city as it is of Mr. Avell; he should not have cut the corners that he did, and he 𝘥𝘦𝘧𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 should not have stubbornly refused to comply when he was notified of the changes he needed to make... but he should never have been in the position of operating a homeless shelter in the first place. Providing adequate shelter space for the homeless 𝘴𝘩𝘰𝘶𝘭𝘥 be the responsibility of the local government- and there, as in all too many other places, the government has obviously not been meeting that responsibility. Nor, for that matter, have the voters who elected them, who would doubtless balk at paying even slightly higher taxes to fund another shelter.

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Jan 23·edited Jan 23

Triangle shirtwaist fire, NYC. Iroquois Theater fire, Chicago. Our Lady of the Angels School fire, Chicago. The school was exempted from new fire codes at the behest of the Chicago Diocese. I was 12 when this happened. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_the_Angels_School_fire

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Ah, yes. The devil is always in the details.

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