Thought provoking books on Homelessness

A number of us who volunteer with the BroMo Collective started our adventure with limited personal experience and/or knowledge of street-level homelessness. Although all of our volunteer staff have direct expereince and knowledge of various forms of personal crisis and suffering, (which are generally at the core of the homeless experience) many of us are still in need of being good students of the people we are seeking to love.

So out of love, we read deeply on the subject of homelessness in order that we may better enter into their world, hold space for their unique struggles, and hopefully bring contextualized perspective on life and gospel truth. T

he following is a list of a number of books that have been helpful, in one way or another, to fulfill our desire to better love our homeless friends.

A redacted collection of over 10K interviews of those on the streets of Portland Oregon over the last 20 years. Heart wrenching, disturbing, and absolutely necessary reading for those truly looking to cross the middle-class barrier and to UNDERSTAND the gritty lives of those who are experiencing homelessness. I served as a chaplain at a large rescue mission in Portland, Oregon for five years, where this book was produced by an organization called "Sisters of the Road".

William Booth started the Salvation Army in the late 19th century in England. Today there are still thousands of Salvation Army churches and centers all over the world serving the poor and homeless in various capacities and in Jesus' name. William Booth is my hero for many reasons. If tattoos were not so expensive, I’d get his face tattooed somewhere on my body. His biography is a good introduction to homelessness and how the good news of the gospel works miracles and life change among the lower classes.

Craig accurately and powerfully speaks about the heart of Christ for those experiencing severe mental illness and homelessness, and describes actions to serve them effectively. He was living out the “harm reduction” philosophy long before it became more popular as a strategy for helping those on the street. He served as a mental health chaplain in Seattle for many years – his perspectives are Spiritually Christian, but he seems to come from more of a Universalistic theological perspective. Many, many complex and heart rending stories. I’ve read it a few times this last decade.

I cried my way through this book. He runs the outreach section of “Loaves and Fishes” in Austin Texas called “Mobile Loaves and Fishes”. His gritty, relationally rich experiences with the homeless will soften the coldest of hearts and will challenge us about the truly long-term nature of healing and recovery.