Mayor Castleberry and Conway City Council. Here we are again walking around this same wall. If we would be honest, walls are symbols for protection, isolation, and comfort. Walls are built and maintained because there is this fear-sometimes factually based and other times imagined-of some type of group positioned to change our way of life. What if on the other side of this wall is a greater realization of our humanity as citizens of Conway?
We possess a vibrant and economically growing city which wants to position itself as the alternative to LR. Property values are important and yet we must ask ourselves if the creation of a solution for the homeless is always met with the fear of a drop of a dollar, then where in the city of Conway can the homeless gain greater access. “A study released by NYU’s Furman Center in 2008 found that supportive housing in New York City does not have a negative impact on nearby property values” (Coburn, 2015). “A 1999 study conducted by the Urban Institute, came to similar conclusions about property values…These researchers determined that, on average, crime rates were not higher near supportive housing compared to similar areas with no such development” (Coburn, 2015). We can use our affluence to help others and not use it as the primary reason to press persons in need elsewhere.
In 2015 zoning requirements were amended to make it more difficult for services with the homeless to open freely and now all such services must go through this protracted process. Well there are more voices today. I present to you 383 signatures of Conway residents, UCA and Hendrix Students, and Conway High School teachers who are supporting this facility to open. Persons stewarded with political influence and authority are responsible to protect the societies most vulnerable even when it is not popular. So I say to my friends on the council, it is time for you to vote with mercy, exercise justice, and follow the leading of God.
This meeting and the previous meeting will be met with statements such as “I believe in what you do, I’m a Christian, but….” We possess a schizophrenic personality as we extol the noble principles of “love thy neighbor” but in practice we say to our neighbor “I. Will. Love. You, if…” In so far as the Christian faith, we are making it impotent, a flaccid instrument serving our purposes of convenience. With all of our talk about community and bearing burdens now is the time to translate this doctrine to the application of the lives of the homeless.
So we here we stand at a wall with the opportunity to proceed into a new land of opportunity and compassion. It is a wall held together with economic fear, political power, and impotent religion. So we have come to this wall to walk around it. We walk around with petition, appeals, meetings, social media post, conversation, and prayer. And now as we move around a seventh time, it is time for us to shout. Shouting for men and women to love justice, mercy, and walk humbly with God. It is time for us to shout for the homeless men, women and children of Conway. It is time for us to shout with the eternal power of love and see the walls which separate us from one another and the prosperity of the human soul to finally come down.