On the first night we learned how much the city has changed from how it was originally. It used to be a predominantly African American community of freed slaves from the south. However, the price of housing has increased so much that the residents who used to occupy the city have been pushed/forced into government funded housing. This process to live in a government funded home is not as easy as it sounds; there is an 8 year wait for housing in the city with approximately 28,000 families in line. During this wait period people either move into small apartments with multiple families sharing the space or live on the streets. There is currently over 6, 000 known homeless people in Washington. These are the people we’ve been able to touch this week; the homeless, the hungry, and those living in the housing projects.
When you think of our nation’s capital, are the first things that come to your mind drug deals, sex trafficking in DuPont circle, and teenage mothers walking out on their children? Or do you think of the monuments and the White House, maybe even the National’s stadium or Verizon Center. Here lies the biggest dichotomy I know, and have witnessed this week.
Too often when I pass by a person who appears homeless or hungry I either don’t look at them, judge them, or compartmentalize them. I don’t think of them as people, or as equals in Christ. Driving through Anacostia on the first night, I looked in their eyes for the first time. I saw the hurt and regret in teenagers’ eyes, I saw the lack of hope in reckless boys spray painting a car, and I saw the need for love and stability in this one boy’s eyes. He was standing on the curb of a sidewalk as I drove by we just starred at each other. In the background, “When I call on Jesus” by Mandisa was playing and I just broke down. The other girls didn’t understand why I was so upset, trust me that if you saw the look in this boy’s eyes, you would’ve cried too.
I’ve talked to at least three dozen people who are homeless or living in the projects this week. I’ve heard their life stories and how they got to where they are. I’ve fed them, clothed them, did yard work for them, and shared the love of God with them. But most importantly I have learned to be aware and acknowledge that all people are God’s people. No matter who we are or where we come from, we are all united as brothers and sisters in Christ.