Homeless woman - mental patient - unsure where charity begins & ends


I’ve recently befriended a homeless woman who has just been evicted from her apartment. I only hear her side of the story - I called the police here and they told me that she went through the complete eviction process, so I assume she was given every chance to rectify whatever rules she was breaking yet she didn’t follow through so she was evicted legally.

When she visits I usually offer her food and stuff, you know, what we’re supposed to do for each other, and we talk a bit.

This past week, however, when she visited, she was yawning fiercely so I got her a hotel for the night - not really because I’m nice or anything but because I didn’t want to spend a lot of time with her and I wanted her to go away.

She’d told me she didn’t want to go to the shelter downtown because she was afraid somebody’d steal from her.

She also has mental problems - she talks in a sort of word salad often and sometimes can’t remember back even one sentence.

I’m getting frustrated because my husband and I can’t afford to send this woman to a hotel every time she’s sleepy, I don’t currently have access to a car, I can’t give up my mornings every time she comes around though I do want to continue helping her. Then I get mad at myself for being so selfish.

She’s told me too that she’s working with a social worker and a psych nurse, in fact she gave me their names.

I feel caught in-between my selfish tendencies, my pride in trying to think that I can fix a person instead of depending on God’s great wisdom and infinite love for us all and my need to take care of my own home.

Any suggestions on what is true social justice in this situation?

**God Bless you for your love and compassion!
Do what you can and pray for her!

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!


It is very good of you to be so helpful to this troubled person. However, it sounds like the kind of help she really needs is not what you’re able to provide. Rather than paying for a hotel room, you might consider donating the money to a shelter or soup kitchen. It would help a lot more homeless people that way.

I know it will be hard for you to set boundaries, because it will feel selfish. But we are not called to be doormats. You need to remain aware of your duty to provide for yourself and your family.

You may also want to make up a few dozen PBJ sandwiches, and get some snack sized pretzels and cheap juice boxes. Put the sandwiches in the freezer so they keep, and when you see her, (on days you cannot spend much time) give her a sack lunch, tell her you can’t spend time with her that day, but want to make sure she has a meal.

Seek the intercession of St. Dymphna, patroness of those with Mental health, and if she is a Catholic, or willing to accept one, get a medal of St. Dymphna and have it blessed by your parish priest. Look over the website for the Shrine of St. Dymphna too. Enrolling her name for $2.00 a year in the Leauge may be another nice (spiritual) thing to do. medals are just a dollar, with a third class relic.


Chat with your pastor. There may be a charitable group [such as St. Vincent de Paul] that can find her an apartment or an SRO [single room occupancy] room or “group home” without the dangers associated with a shelter. Perhaps a lower-cost “assisted living” place with a cafeteria; she doesn’t need much actual assistance. SRO’s used to be pretty readily available. Some parishes actually have fully credentialed social workers on the parish staff. Sometimes the diocese has excellent programs, such as Catholic Community Services. But ask around and see if you can find a placement for her.

We all need boundaries. What is the morality of destructing the the self?

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