Hearing the recent news about the New Life Center for the homeless being closed in downtown St Louis raises the awareness of our local housing needs for low-income adults with developmental disabilities in St Charles County. It reminds me of “Uncle Louie”, part of the inspiration behind establishing Foundations Of Love.
Uncle Louie was a local man who was injured in a farming accident as a young child. Without the funds to pay for medical care, the local doctor helped him heal as best as possible, and Louie’s recovery resulted in his back being crooked at a nearly 90-degree angle. He learned to walk with the use of a big stick but was unable to ever finish school or work. Louie grew up and eventually, his parents passed away. He lived a meager life and supplemented his welfare income by hand weaving pieces of cloth into items like potholders and small area rugs he’d trade for his needs. People in the community helped support Louie by donating him old rags or clothes that he’d tear into small strips to weave. When his small shanty home next to the railroad tracks burned, a group of men in the community banded together to get a trailer home set up for Louie, so he had a place to call home.
Safe, affordable housing is an ever-increasing need in our community. We are so thankful for the tireless efforts of our local partner organizations who work with our special needs people who often cannot advocate for themselves.
We see the direct impact of what happens when the parents become aged or die, and their “adult” child with autism, MD, Downs Syndrome or some other developmental disability is left on their own. Many of the people we serve have no relatives, they’re in the 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. They struggle daily to have the financial resources to just survive, with little or no extra to add quality to their lives. Without the generosity of the community, there’s little social / community interaction – like attending a fair, movie or dining out.
The budgetary function in government is a heated, emotional task and the potential of lower taxes at the state and federal level could mean a reduction in funding resources for organizations, like Foundations Of Love, who supports low-income adults with developmental disabilities. This makes the burden of continuing services and support functions more difficult… which in turn could cause an even larger increase in the homeless population.
Many growing industries, like construction and farming, need workers, but cannot find them. Yet, our welfare programs are overloaded with recipients, many of whom are capable workers. Now is the time to be vocal to your government leaders and encourage them to direct and redirect funds that may be currently focused on supporting people who COULD support themselves. Human nature will nudge a capable, functioning person to become creative, survive and become productive if the current funding is reduced or eliminated.