By Dr. Sam Doku
The problem of homelessness is not just a District of Columbia problem; it is not even just an American problem; it is a global phenomenon. However, it is a problem that is often overlooked as embroiling drug-addicts, perennial drunks, and the notoriously indolent.
Anyone who decides to tackle the disturbing problem of homelessness must be, therefore, be someone with a big heart, a heart full of compassion, generosity, sympathy, and strength.
DC Mayor Muriel E. Bowser unfolded those biblical virtues on Tuesday when she graciously moved to address the District’s long-standing problem of homelessness that impacts not only drunks, drug-addicts, and the indolent but also, once diligent professionals like doctors and engineers who might find themselves on the wrong side of life.
As a woman and a mother, Mayor Bowser’s approach to homelessness is simultaneously emotional, economical, and political. Bowser tapped into the District’s reserve of over $45 million to provide temporary relief to some needy families by housing them in comfortable motels until permanent housing facilities are found for them.
“What the Mayor of DC has done is excellent because she is just following the biblical injunction of caring for the needy, the least of the least among us,” said Dr. Kofi Adonteng-Boateng, founder and Bishop of Divine Word International Ministries in Springfield, VA. Dr. Adonteng Boateng knows perfectly well the importance of Mayor Bowser’s initiative because a couple of years ago, he and the Church visited the homeless shelter in Southeast DC and donated food items and clothing, worth thousands of dollars, to occupants of the shelter.
“When we visited the shelter, I saw the practical impact of homelessness; it can come as a scourge in the life of anybody, regardless of your status in life at any point in time. You can be a doctor, engineer, driver, a professional; it doesn’t matter. What matters most in life is to be blessed with the mercy and grace of the Lord to guide your path in life, for you never know,” said the Bishop in a pensive tone.
The reason to relish the joy associated with Mayor Bowser’s humanization of homelessness is because DC makes millions of dollars from tourism, and sometimes, one of the blights on the District’s cultural capital is the dolorous imagery of homeless people as mendicants on the streets, begging for money.
Having been born and raised in the District, Mayor Bowser took the rein as mayor with an in-depth knowledge of the plight of the homeless in the District, so she promised to eradicate the problem of homelessness in her campaign. That promise has turned out to be not merely an empty campaign rhetoric, but also, she has delivered.
Mayor Bowser’s immediate priority will be the provision of fiduciary means to accommodate nearly 300 families currently housed in the buildings of the erstwhile DC General Hospital on Southern Avenue in Southeast.
Bowser, the sixth mayor of the District, and the second female to man the chief executive office of the District after Sharon Kelly Pratt, since the District was granted home rule in 1974, would become the first female to win a second term if she continued to deliver on her campaign assurances.
Mayor Bowser has set 2017 as the target to complete her drive to humanize homelessness in Washington, DC, an ambition many City Council members, if not all of them, should share with their former colleague on the Council.