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Homeless Advocate Murdered On Park Bench

by | Jul 9, 2020 | Formation, Homelessness, Reflections | 0 comments

I was saddened … but grateful… when my confrere, Gene Sheridan, pastor of our parish in Baltimore, sent me a clipping from the Baltimore Sun.

I was saddened by the news of the stabbing death of one of the city’s leading homeless advocates who was himself homeless. 

Excerpts from the article…

Paul Behler was a founding member of the advocacy group Housing Our Neighbors; helped start Baltimore’s first street newspaper, Word on the Street, and was part of a Faces Of Homelessness Speakers Bureau. The paper, which sold for $1 a copy, was launched in 2012 and published until 2014. Behler was a lead writer.

He and his friend Tony Simmons became two of Baltimore’s best-known advocates for people experiencing homelessness — sharing their experiences of homelessness from the city to the state capital to push politicians to spend more on permanent, supportive and affordable housing.

According to Baltimore police, Behler was robbed and stabbed to death shortly before 2 a.m. at a bus stop in the 300 block of W. Saratoga Street in downtown Baltimore. Behler’s friends say the location, not far from Lexington Market, had a bench where he frequently spent time.

Behler told his friend he was too afraid of catching COVID-19 to stay in a shelter. So, Simmons believes Behler was sleeping on the bench when he was attacked. On Sunday, Behler, 67, met the fate Simmons said his friend feared all those years before.

Kevin Lindamood, president of Health Care for the Homeless, said “To hear that he was murdered while sleeping at a bus stop is both a tragedy beyond measure and an indictment of a society that continues to allow homelessness in the wealthiest nation in the history of history” Lindamood said. “We must come to understand housing and health care as fundamental human rights.

I said above I was also grateful for the news. I was grateful for the reminder of how serious the plight of the homeless is.It reminded me why the Vincentian Family Homeless Initiative as well as the 13 Houses Project are so important.

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