Topic: "The Chronic Circle Jerk of Homelessness"
What keeps a homeless person down? What keeps a homeless person trapped in homelessness?
I think there are several reasons for this. I read today on Myspace "if homeless people all had jobs there would be no more homelessness". The funny thing is that he was actually part of a "homeless group". I read once where a woman was saying what a giving person she was. Gave to this and that, but she never knew about homelessness at all (or how much it was a problem around her in her community) until she went to a homeless prevention workshop. To her credit, she was a great woman, I came to believe! She just didn't know.
I go to church that donates clothing to the homeless. I see that the crowed is 80% men and the clothing is 80% women's. That's seriously off balance.
If you know anything at all about homelessness you would know that an I.D. is absolutely the HARDEST thing for a homeless person to get. So, why is it that when I go to that same church the first thing they ask for is an I.D? They want an I.D before they can offer any state help. They want an I.D. to stay in many shelters. They want an I.D. before they toss me a sandwich. This makes no sense.
So why has homelessness been an unfixable issue that's been around for...... what.... 2,000 years, since God walked the earth? Why has this problem never gone away?
I have a few thoughts:
1. Lack of knowledge and understanding of homelessness
2. Lack of motivations on the part of homeless people
3. Our resources not working together
4. Lack of available resources
5. And, of course, what I call the "capitalization of the homeless market"
Lets look at some of this now.
First, the lack of knowledge and understanding of homelessness. YES, before you can help.... you must understand. Even the little things. For example, not everyone you see that's homeless is an alcoholic/junkie. Not all homeless people want help. Not everyone becomes homeless the same way - for some, it is drugs; and for others, its simply bad luck and lack of proper money management mixed together (that seams where I land! Lost my job, made a few choices that didn't quite go my way, and before I knew it, I had started a downward spiral that ended with me on the streets where I'm stuck now.) You have to know that homelessness is something that might take more to fix than simply landing a job. You have to understand that not all homeless people wear dirty clothing (if you saw me you probably wouldn't think I was homeless at all. And there are many people that are homeless and don't "look" it) You have to know that sometimes homelessness is something that takes time to get out of. You have to know that just because you don't see me with a family doesn't mean I don't have one. You have to understand that just because I pan handled it doesn't mean I think its "cool to get free money" (I have never paned, because I think I would just be overwhelmed with humiliation if I did). You have to understand these things before you can do anything. You have to understand how hard it is for me to obtain ANYTHING without an address. ESPECIALLY an I.D. And why do they require the I.D.? To make sure I'm a resident! Don't you know that homeless people often move around? I go to apply for food stamps and tell you I am homeless and then you tell me before you can do anything you need an address from me (that happened to me also). So, yes there must be some understanding. Why help if you don't know what you're helping in the first place?
Next, lack of motivation on the part of homeless people. Some homeless people just don't want to be helped. They don't mind sleeping outside and they know were to get food. They are just fine. However, there are many, MANY, homeless people that don't want that life (myself included). And for them motivation can be something that is strong at first but dwindles away in time. I think it dwindles away because of failure, and the downward spiral. I have $30 left to my name. I spend it on job interviews (bus tickets, food that day, laundry so I can look half way decent, and so on). Then i get told I am "over qualified". Now, I have no money AND I still have no job, and now I start thinking "this life of homelessness must be what was meant for me". (This little bit actually did happen to me). A lack of motivation is easy for homeless people. The longer they are homeless the less motivated they are in becoming not homeless.
So we need to think about how we can motivate homeless people. We can do it by showing them that their efforts will eventually pay off. A lack of motivation is something that must be changed from within a homeless person's heart. To go from being unmotivated to motivated can be hard for anyone. It is very difficult to motivate a 10 year homeless person, but I believe it can be done!
Next, our resources are not working together. This is a big one. Someone told me that we actually have over 3000 shelters in America. That's over 60 shelters per state! Add onto that all the churches that help and all the soup-kitchens and all the "homeless housing projects" that are out there! Add that onto all the other resources that are available and the amount of help that people offer up all on their own and we've got a lot of people doing a lot of things to help the homeless issue in this country. When I begin to think about that number I ask myself two questions: one, why does it take me so long to find what I need. Second, why do I have to spend half, HALF of my day, EVERY DAY, to get access to what I need?
I spent several hours a day walking from recourse to resource to get even the simple things. I could spend a day walking around for a place to sleep and 3 meals alone. This is basic survival - I'm not even talking about if I need to do something. Then, factor in the time spend in lines. Most soup-kitchens I have seen require you to be there about 1 hour early or you're going to have a VERY long wait. A meal is 1 1/2 to 2 hours long. Figure in 3 meals and then add in the time it takes to get there...... You do the math and show me how to not waste my day. However, God Bless soup-kitchens!
Next, lack of available resources. On a lot of things there is a "lack". Lack of showers. Lack of places to get mail. Lack of places to get shoes or shoes that fit. Lack of diapers. Lack of shelters. Lack of work centers. But the key word here is "available" resources. Once again I add all this into the blabber above! Everything is scattered. You better believe that if you do manage to find a place you can have mail sent to, its going to be an hour walk away from the soup-kitchen. And that's a 40 minute walk away form the shelter. Yes, its true. Go to Huntington Beach California. From the beach there is one place a homeless person can go to get clothing washed and that's only available once a week (its a 2 to 3 hour long process once there). It's a 1 1/2 hour walk away (that's about 6 miles)! I have done that walk, with all my clothing!
Last, the capitalization of the homeless market! How many times in the last 4 years have you heard something like this....."or you're going to be homeless", "don't want to be homeless do you?", "don't want you and your family to be homeless"? Well, that's what it is! When someone puts these thoughts into your head for their own personal gain it affects you. It happens a lot. Even homeless people do it. For example, they tell you that they are homeless so you will feel bad and give them money.
Homelessness is a market now. Organizations can't stress enough about how much they give to the homeless and how much it would mean to them if you also give to them. And people "this organization is bigger then the others..... our money is better spent here". Its a brutal cycle. The MORE homeless I am the MORE you are likely to give to me than the other homeless guy. The MORE you give the MORE morally correct you are. The MORE morally correct you are the stranger you are and therefore MORE likely to receive whatever your interests are. I'm having a hard time explaining this.
Look.... I'll give you an example! We all remember the recent "homeless Halloween party"! If not you can hit this link: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/james-baum-foreclosure-homeless-halloween-255102ig It made a lot of people mad last month.
Look at what they do! Look at what they did! Now to go to their website at: http://www.mbaum.com/SJB/givingback.jsp
And click on the top where it says "giving back" !
And you will now see how much they GIVE!!
- Donate for Life
- The American Red Cross
- Ride for Roswell Cancer Institute
- Heritage House
- Buffalo Hospice
- Western New York Food Bank
- Toys for Tots
Homelessness has become a market! Anyway you slice it! I do understand some of it. A non-profit has to get its name out. There has to be some form of promotion. Not just to gain but also to spread awareness. But the marketing is bad. It divides homelessness and splits it into sections. The fact of the matter is "homelessness is homelessness". Marketing makes it "homeless elderly vs. homeless junky" or "homeless vet vs. homeless teen"! Which means more to you? Who will you give your money to?
I think all these things play a part in why its so hard for a homeless person to make it out of poverty.
I have seen places that went against the grain. Once again, if you go to Portland, Maine you well see a very homeless friendly place. In Portland a homeless person can get EVERYTHING he needs within a mile radius. Homeless people will travel across the country to go there (and they have).
Another place is "The Village of Hop" in Tustin, California. This is an old Military base that houses all sorts of people. Single homeless people. Homeless families. Alcoholics. People that were on drugs. Any form of person dealing with hard times and poverty. Once again, EVERYTHING that person needs is right there inside the compound. And its nice! Everything is run by volunteers and donations. The only problem there is that the waiting lines are just too long. It might take you months to get in..... if ever!
Now, these are just my opinions! I might be wrong (or for all I know you can't understand any of it because it makes no sense)! You might get mad at me..... sorry! But this is why I think people find it so hard to make it out of homelessness. It is a " Chronic Circle Jerk" in my opinion.
But I can tell you this, since I have been here on the web talking about homelessness I have noticed one thing: There is NO lack of caring people that are helping. NONE AT ALL! I have come to this conclusion:
The weight of caring hearts of the people helping far out ways poverty! That's right....... homelessness can be beat!
I hope I did good on this one. Its was harder for me to write than I thought it would be. But I like the challenge. It gives me something to do that I feel good about.
Homeless tip: If you are lucky enough to know you are about to be homeless......... GET A VALID I.D., SS CARD, AND BIRTH CERTIFICATE!! I don't care if it wastes away the very last of your money. DO IT!
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