[Hpn] Joy-Boy (J.Reynalds) weighs in on quality-of-life enforcement

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Tue, 30 Jan 2001 16:27:38 -0700


Dear Weekly Alibi,

Joy Junction--Albuquerque's largest emergency homeless shelter--fully
supports Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez's plans to rid city streets of
career panhandlers.

Chavez is taking a very realistic approach to the situation by saying that
those who can work should work and that those who are homeless should find
shelter. By taking this stand, he is definitely a politician in touch with
his constituent's wishes. And isn't that what politicians are supposed to
do--represent the wishes of the majority of the people by whom they were

Let me explain. During the last decade as head of Joy Junction, I have
spoken with hundreds of (very generous but usually financially hard-pressed)
Albuquerqueans. They have told me, and shown me by their consistent giving
to Joy Junction, that they are willing to help people get back on their
feet--or support programs that are accomplishing that objective--but they
are absolutely sick of seeing people begging on Albuquerque streets.

And these hard-working folk have every right to be upset. They go to work
whether they "feel" like it or not and obey bosses who tell them when to
come and when to go. That's unlike one homeless panhandler recently quoted
in an Albuquerque newspaper, who said he doesn't like shelters like Joy
Junction, which "tell you when to come, when to go." That's because
faith-based ministries like ours have an agenda. It's to get the homeless
back on their feet and reintegrated into mainstream community life as
quickly as possible. And in mainstream community life, you're told "when to
come and when to go."

Another panhandler quoted in the same article said he avoids shelters
because he doesn't like rules and regulations. I grant him his First
Amendment constitutionally guaranteed right to do just that. But society is
made up of those rules and regulations that this gentleman so obviously
dislikes. Mayor Chavez is not in any way, shape or form attempting to punish
the poor. He is attempting to help change the socially unacceptable behavior
of a very small element of Albuquerque's poor.

I suspect Mayor Chavez's motive in enforcing this ordinance is to see
homeless panhandlers elevated into a life of productivity. Joy Junction is
proud that it can help the Mayor fulfill that goal at least a little.
Faith-based ministries like Joy Junction work. During 1995, we served over
90,000 meals and sheltered almost 6,000 people. We also provided hundreds of
articles of free clothing to our guests.

We are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, we provide
24-hour transportation to the shelter. Anyone needing a ride can call
877-6967 or (800) 924-0569 any time, day or night.

So instead of bashing the mayor--let's thank him for providing the initial
motivation to help lift some of Albuquerque's homeless off the streets.

Jeremy Reynalds Executive Director of Joy Junction Albuquerque