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Editorial: Homeless project could be a life-changer

The persistence, complexity and scope of homelessness can have a paralyzing effect. How to address a problem that has been with us for centuries? Perhaps the answer is this: one step at a time.

To that end, we can only applaud the intentions of John Moretto, director of the Open Hands Resource Center, a Christian nonprofit with an office in Concord and plans to convert a former bed and breakfast in Loudon into a residential farm for homeless men.

Moretto has signed an agreement to buy the former Lovejoy Farm, where he proposes to move with his family.

There he hopes to run a disciplined transitional program: eight hours of work, five days a week; morning devotions; evening Bible study; no drugs or alcohol.

“My faith says that I should be more worried about the people around me and the people that need help than myself,” Moretto told Monitor reporter Laura McCrystal.

As Moretto acknowledged, the program he envisions won’t fit everybody. And whether his plans are an appropriate fit for the neighborhood is a question for Loudon to decide.

The fact that Moretto intends to live on the farm suggests that half-hearted management won’t be an issue. Still, we’d encourage Moretto to remain open with the community about such practical but important questions as how he’d screen applicants, whether he’d accept former sex offenders and others with criminal records, and how he’d deal with misbehavior.

The notion that structure and direction can be answers to poverty is not new, and the approach is not magical. But for motivated men in need of an opportunity, Moretto’s farm could be a life-changer.

Problem is there are too many rules and most will elect to stay on the streets. The Monitor ought to look back in its archives because they did a story on the local homeless a number of years ago and most said they were out there by choice because they did not want to follow rules in the shelters. Hope I am wrong, but think this gentleman may have difficulty getting people to apply to his program or getting any long-term residents. I applaud his efforts but don't imagine it is going to be a hugely successful venture unless he aims at the homeless that we do not read about in the paper or Patch daily.

Good for John Moretto! His plan for the homeless is the smartest idea I have seen yet. This is the direction to go. Put these people to work. Teach them values and a work ethic and it will restore their dignity and give them back their independence. As I have stated, making these folks dependent on us takes away motivation and a sense of self-worth. Obviously, this is John's calling and he is putting everything on the line to do it! I hope it is a huge success!

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