News • February 20, 2017

CBU lecture series speaker discusses solutions for helping the homeless

Damien O'Farrell

Riverside, Calif. (Feb. 17, 2017)—“We know that transformation can happen when the right support, right encouragement, right love and right resources are given,” Damien O’Farrell (’00) told a California Baptist University audience on Feb 16. 

O’Farrell, Path of Life Ministries CEO, spoke as part of the School of Behavioral Sciences Culture and Justice Lecture Series. Path of Life is a nonprofit organization located in Riverside that offers numerous programs aimed to get individuals off the streets and on the way to restoring and rebuilding their lives.

“In order to talk about homelessness, if we are even going to get close to creating solutions, we have to talk about poverty,” O’Farrell said. “Homelessness is a symptom of poverty; there is a direct correlation.”

O’Farrell presented a historical perspective on poverty rates, economic trends and how the U.S. government has handled these issues. O’Farrell advocated for taking individuals out of a homeless situation—once a person has a place of residence, that is one less issue a person has to navigate. Additionally, he said, it is more cost effective if the homeless are offered some sort of housing option. 

“When you count in the cost of police, emergency room visits, code enforcement, education, loss of business, etc., etc., not even counting the cost of the individual which I think is important, it’s very expensive for someone to stay homeless,” O’Farrell said. “You might not feel it, but these costs are coming from our tax base.”

O’Farrell said at the very least Christians should be interested in helping the homeless community.

“Spread throughout the whole of the scriptures there is a story of bringing restoration and help to not only people but (also to) the community and helping people escape situations in which they are outsiders,” O’Farrell said.

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