” LAZARUS AT THE DOOR “
A Study of East Side Churches
Public Housing Project
” A poor relation is…a rebuke to your rising…
a fly in your ointment…the ounce of sour in your
pound of sweet…A Lazarus at your door.”
(Apologies to Charles Lamb)
Set in the midst of her more or less affluent neighbors, Roosevelt Homes is a community within a community…truly a “Lazarus at the Door”. To some of these neighbors a more fitting analogy would be that of Oaks and Spanish moss, but like it or not, they are neighbors.
Certainly Roosevelt Homes does not contain all the poor in St. Paul, or even of it’s East Side. Scattered over the area, in attic and basement apartments, there are other “hidden” poor. The specific differences about a “housing” address is that because of it, residents, regardless of the circumstances that brought them there, acquire a “Lower-Class” status that becomes Public Domain.
Were Roosevelt Homes an independently functioning community, the situation would be simply irritating to all concerned. But such is not the nature of government housing. There cannot be profit from housing, which means that residents of this essentially “bedroom community” must look elsewhere for food, clothing, and other essential needs. To some these essential needs include Spiritual needs, yet here especially, because of an understood separation of Church and State, there can be no established Churches in Public Housing.
Books could be written on the general discrimination encountered because of housing residence. Even experts within the Housing industry readily admit that segregated housing projects have created whole new “ghettos”. Regardless of previous credit, residents who want to move find that they no longer have credit when they search for apartments in the local community. Although answers to fire calls, with in the Housing community, are usually prompt, because of possible “property damage”…and possible criticism by “taxpayers”, police protection was for a long time practically non existent. This was understood to be an internal matter, to be settled by the Housing Authority itself, yet, ironically, nowhere was a prospective tenant ever informed than upon entering federal housing, he was, in essence, giving up certain rights taken for granted by most citizens.