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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Day 70 - Homeless Facts, Studies, And Stystictics


In a homeless forum I asked this question to students:

Do you think it is good for society to strip homelessness into categories?
Example: homeless vets, homeless teens, homeless and pregnant, homeless elderly, homeless alcoholic, homeless child and all the ones I missed.

Or is it better to just call a homeless person "homeless"?

And why?

Maybe its a funny question. But I do feel its a simple one. I have not had a single response from these students. Today, I asked my work friend the same question. He had an answer right away. I asked this question because I want to know how deep this "capitalization on the homeless market" that I believe exist, really is. Is this something real or am I just making it up? I don't think I am. SOOOOOO I set out to find the root cause.... the main source (if you will) of what fuels this idea I have.

It didn't take long! Facts, studies, and  statistics are where I would up. In fact I believe this is where MOST of the problems begin. Now, my friend that I mentioned this to today was firm on his position and it didn't take him long to have answers. Facts, studies, statistics and polls are all based on research and data. In relation to homeless people, we need this data. Why? Because, as my friend mentioned, homeless people are still part of society. They are still active members in the community. Without data that includes homeless people, all the other data about non-homeless people would be, in a way, wrong. And data is what moves the economy (whether good or bad). To me this makes sense. Sure, I can go along with that.

After that was out of the way my friend and I got into it. At which point he was agreeing with me. My thoughts are that its the way this data is DISPENSED that causes homeless people to be stripped into categories and causes misleading facts about homeless people (such as, homeless people are drunks, homeless people are... bla bla bla, we have heard it all before) and also causes people to have a sway of opinions about the issue which directly affects the way we interact with a homeless person when you see him. My friend and I both agree that the dispense of data in regards to homelessness is in fact, bad!

Now, some people right now are saying "Well, Homelessrob, we need that info because we can use it for good and target the problem". I understand that. I just don't think that has become the case with the homeless issue.

Let me explain a little more, please!

Let's say a poll is done and let's say the pool said something like this:

A study of 30,000 homeless people finds that at 14% homeless vets are the larges population of homeless people. Out of that 14 %, 40% are known alcoholics.

Now this was an actual post I read. I can't say for sure if it was 40% or another number but for the sake of this conversation, it doesn't matter. Basically, all this study offered were two facts about what THEY found:
Fact 1: Homeless vets were the largest "group" found of 30,000 homeless people;
Fact 2 : A portion of those vets where alcoholics (I hated the post for that. I thought "why did they even have to add that"? But what I'm telling you is that I read and the truth).

So I read this and now my opinion is swayed. OK! So now this study goes out and before you know it its on Twitter. Some guy with 1,000,000 followers post it. Out of his 1,000,000 followers maybe 20,000 read it because they have a interest in the topic. Now, lets not be fools here. We all know what happens next! That study turns into something that sounds like this:

In a nationwide study, 14% of homeless people are vets in which most of whom are alcoholics.

Whether this person has a link to the actual study or not  doesn't matter. He said it and now all his followers have been swayed (whether good or bad doesn't matter). To me this is the problem right here - well, a very large portion of the problem I should say. Because now people are swayed in opinions and the focus is not on homelessness in its entirety.

Its like that game we all played in 1st grade. The one where all the students stand in a large circle and the teacher says one sentence into the ear of the first kid in the circle. Each kid whispers the same sentence into the ear of the student next to him or her. But the time the sentence goes all around the circle and back into the teachers ear the sentence is different.

Listen to this:
In a nationwide poll, homeless vets where found to have EASIER access to MORE non-homeless benefits then any other type of homeless person.

Think about this.................................
Is this a fact? Or did I just make that up?

Lets try it a different way:
In a nationwide poll, homeless teen mothers were found to have EASIER access to MORE non-homeless benefits than any other type of homeless person.

Is this a fact? Or did I just make it up?

It almost sounds the same. The first statement sounded like it might have had more truth in it than the second to me. That's only because I seem to always be asked  if I am a vet when it comes to matters of homelessness. I never see a form that asked me if I'm a teen mother.

BUT, to someone who has never dealt with homelessness either statement could sound true. And in all these cases, the result is to swaying the opinions of people about the issues.

Just because I said it doesn't make it true.

More often than not the dispensing of this information comes from people that have a special interest in the topic. People want (and in almost all cases NEED) to have access to data and use it . Why? Because if they didn't, how would they make themselves known. SEE, I get it!

How could a non-profit ever be seen or heard if they had nothing to say? And they also need to stay relevant to the topic. So, they take data and spread it. OK!

One thing I noticed that I think supports this crazy idea of mine are the words that seem to surround the topic (in this case homelessness). I always see words like: MOST, MAJORITY, MOST LIKELY, MORE, MORE AND MORE, HIGHEST NUMBER OF, BIGGEST!

It makes since too. Most people want others to know that what they are doing contributes to the MOST worst of of the topic (in this case homelessness). Oh, you don't think I'm right?
Go to twitter and just count how many times you hear the words "smallest" and compare.

Since I'm here (and I don't know... or care of that matter), what is the second biggest "group" of homeless people? Or the 3rd biggest? Of this matter, who is the smallest? This data must be out there. It has to be. But I'm willing to bet most people don't know off the top of their heads.

Also, and this is just a quick thought, wouldn't it make sense that if we are trying to stop homelessness to start with the smallest "group" and work our way out to the bigger "group" of homeless people? Wouldn't that really be a better direction?

I can just think of all the people that said "yes" to that then immediately thought about how that would affect them and began looking for reasons to say "no".

Because lets face it, what we are doing now is not working! How do I know that?
Well, because of me. I don't care about the data. I don't care about the pools or studies. I look at homelessness as a whole. If you are homeless you are simply "homeless". I don't care for the "fine details".

I support the "its not working" notion with a few facts of my own.

1: Homelessness is real!
2: Homelessness is, and continues to be, an ongoing problem!
3: Over the last 5 years more and more people are becoming homeless (I might need some data to prove that.... but I'm pretty sure it is undisputed to date).

Are these really facts or did I just make them up?




P.S These are just my foggy-minded opinions. Just because I said it does not make it true. I don't believe that any non-profit, organization, or average Jo looking to help the problem, sets out to make the problem worse. I'll give you one more quick fact:

MORE and MORE people every day are helping put a end to homelessness! I believe in my heart that is a true FACT!

One more thing then I've got to go. I have not slept well in about 3 days and I'm beat!

I NEVER ask people to "re tweet" or "like" or "share". I haven't done that one single time. However, for this post I would like some feedback to see what people think. SO, IF you feel its worth it -
PLEASE!

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Day - 69 Homelessrob And Dear, Dave!


Yesterday I was messaging a woman about a response she made to a post I did. I had said something in regards to how I felt it best to sort of stick it out and go solo while homeless. The woman didn't disagree with me, she just wondered if there was any "power in numbers".



My response to her was simple: Yes, there is power in numbers! However, this is not a common case with homeless people. I told her a quick story about a kid that I ran into a few weeks ago. He was on day 3. The night before while scared (I guess) and not knowing what to do, he decided the best thing to do was to teem up with some other homeless people for the night. When he woke up he had been robbed, rendering him in a very bad spot. On top of the money and phone they stole, they also got his I.D. Very bad news for him.

I recommend to stay as far away from other homeless people while trying to make it off the streets. Aside from the fact that you can get your stuff stolen quick, or even get hurt, you still have to think about what will happen if you do become friends. Sure, homelessness is a lonely road at times. Sure, we all like to make friends. But you do need to ask yourself, is this the right time in my life for new friendships? Ask yourself, "besides keeping me company, what is this new friendship going to do in my life that will help me get OFF the streets?" That might seem a little shallow but after you ask yourself that question, ask yourself another: "Is this friendship doing to keep me ON the streets?"

Is this friendship keeping you away from what you need to be doing? Do you find yourself tangled in a bunch of back and froth "IOU"s that prevents you from moving ahead?

Power in numbers works when all members in a party have the same goal.

"Well,  Homelessrob, isn't the main goal to get off the streets?"

YES! However, unless every homeless member in that group plans on living in the same house, every member in the group must go in their own direction to reach the goal. Because each member must go in different direction you have to learn to cut those ties. This is my long and short run strategy!

Homeless people are great resources though, I must say. As I mentioned to the woman, if you find yourself homeless, ask other homeless people questions. Homeless people are a world of information. You need a shower? You need some food? You need to know where a shelter is? Ask them! If you need to have your stuff watched for some reason you can always do the "I'll watch your stuff if you watch mine". For the record, not all homeless people will take your stuff.

Me, I avoid shelters, skid rows, and tent cities. I do not hang out with other homeless people. I don't ask them for anything. I don't feel like I'm better than they are. I"M ONE OF THEM! I just know that I'm homeless and have learned to live a life being homeless and doing it alone. It's how I fell into it. I give this advise through my experiences. You don't have to follow my lead on this! You do what you have to do!

Now, during the messaging with the woman another friend jumped into the conversation. He agreed with me on the "homeless people will steal your stuff if given half the chance thing".

He did not, however, agree with the "homeless camps looked like homeless parties" comment I made. LOL, I said it! I stand by it too. When I see a picture of a homeless camp it looks to me like a bunch of people NOT having fun, but instead just simply look like they are not so motivated to move forward. They look like they have found a way to live; they look like they have settled in, and are going to be there until sometime else comes along. My friend said something like "homeless camps are safe places". I get that. But I can find "safe places" where I don't have to worry about anyone else but me.

If I sound shallow or like I'm judging people I'm sorry! I'm not trying to do that. I'm just trying to get the point across that as a homeless person you are probably better off alone. If I wanted to sound harsh I would say something like "homeless people are going to slow you down. Homeless people will not want to see you make it off the streets. Homeless people are going to try to use you for everything they can and hold you down as much as possible". I might have said things like that in my post to. I still stand by it even though it sounds harsh.

Now not all homeless people are like that. I know a few who are not. However, I bet its a good 80/20 split. 80% of homeless don't want you to make it. 20% of homeless people want to to leave you behind. Its a dirty truth. I don't want to say but this is "Street Life". If you are homeless you already know this. If you are about to be homeless, expect it!

There are some cases in which power in number does work for homeless people though! I'd be remissed if I didn't point this out. For example, I know this group on FB called "homeless helping the homeless". That's a good idea. Also, as a friend pointed out today on the way to work, homeless people often work together and show "great ingenuity" in finding the loop holes on the "no panhandling in Tampa, FL" ban that the shellfish (IMO) people of Tampa made happen by selling news papers. 

On my way here I saw two homeless people picking up cans in a sort of "super bin on wheels". One homeless person picked up the cans while the other pushed the cart.

So yes, there is power in numbers when it comes to homelessness. I just don't think it works for the long run of things.

Last night, on my way to my tent, a homeless man saw me. He sort of jumped up from the bus stop and extended his hand. I shook it and he told me that his name was Dave. Dave had seen me walking around a few times. We also run into each other each Saturday at the church we go to. The Church provides a shower, breakfast and the Word. Dave was waiting for the bus. After I introduced myself the bus pulled around the corner. As I started to walk away, Dave hopped onto the first step of the buss and asked the driver for a free ride to the end of the street (a five minuet walk). The driver said "no" so Dave and I began our hike.

It didn't take long before Dave was offering me beer. I declined. He offered to hang out together also. I declined. Along the walk Dave mostly talked while I listened. Dave said a few things I thought were kind of funny. He said for him, "girls were always taking him down dead end roads and that if he wanted, that he would just stay with his people (homeless people, he meant). Dave was also just out of jail ending his 18th year of in and out of jail spells (Dave is in his 50s). A few times Dave was up to 10 feet ahead of me but I could still smell his breath. I could kind of tell he was a bit drunk anyways because before, whenever I ran into him, he had always been quiet. Last night that beer turned him into a chatter box. Dave offered me company (and beer) again before we parted ways for the night. I declined.

Now here is the thing: I kind of liked Dave. It was cool talking to someone (even listening). Dave would have been good company if he and I were not homeless. And if I knew him a little better I might have shared a beer or two with him. Despite his jail habits (we all have habits ) Dave was kind of cool!

I just couldn't open the door for Dave. I "dear Daved" him! In the long run, Dave and I are simply going in different directions. I can not open the door for distractions that are not helping me get off of the streets.

I'm sorry if I sound harsh and nasty but homelessness is not always a pretty thing.

Dear Dave,
Sorry bro! But good luck to you! I hope you find the job you want. You sure sounded to me like you would be a good sales person to me.

I'm sure I'll see you soon but if I don't, take care of yourself and stay out of trouble!
Homelessrob


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Monday, November 28, 2011

Day - 68 Homelessrob Recognizes Kathryn Harris

A picture is worth a thousand words. I believe that. So does Kathryn Harris, a former homeless woman that seems to have a passion for pictures. A woman whose blog I have hit up more than a few times. Kathryn has a great ability to tell the truth about homelessness through a collection of pictures that she posts on her blog. These pictures have caught my attention and will certainly catch yours as well. However, its not her pictures that I admire about Kathryn. It's her understanding that she can make a difference through awareness that I admire. I think that Kathryn did not take all of the pictures on her blog. Some of the pictures you might have already seen. Some of the pictures you might not even like or understand. I didn't care for a few of them myself. But I can tell you that before I left her blog I was flooded with images that really meant something to me. That I did understand. That did relate to me. Kathryn has put a lot of work into her blog. I think she has put a lot more heart into it than anything else and that's the part that matters most.

I sometimes hear or read things like "I don't know how to help". I also sometimes get the feeling that some people won't help because they feel it won't matter or they aren't able to help. To me that's almost like a Christian who tosses his or her hands up and says "looks like we are in the end times already", LOL! You have heard that too, I'm sure. You have seen that look also, the look that says "why do I bother anymore"!You might have even said it.

Well, I'm going to tell you something now that might rock your world: Jesus has not returned yet (to my knowledge). When I walk down the streets I don't see people disappearing into thin air and leaving behind a pile of clothes. Yes, times are hard now. Things are bad! But we are NOT finished and these are NOT good reasons to give up or simply not do anything. In fact, we should be working harder to make the difference. Myself included!

If you are someone who thinks they can't make a difference, you are wrong! If you feel that what you do doesn't matter, you are wrong! If you think its too late to do anything, you are wrong! You can do all these things. However you choose to do it is up to you. Big ways or small ways, it does not matter. Do what you can for whatever cause you have in mind and do it with understanding and a big heart. Like my friend Kathryn Harris!

This is her blog if you would like to see it : http://kathrynharris.tumblr.com/  You can also find her on Twitter.

Now, I have to warn you...... a lot of these picture are disturbing. I found more than a few to be heartbreaking. Some of them made me smile. Some of then made me mad. Some of them made me think about my own actions and doings. Some of them made me think about the actions and doings of others.

When the sum of her blog was done with, though, I know that I felt different. Some parts of me changed! Her blog sparked something in me. That happened because she put heart and understanding into her work. That spark is her unknown pay off! She doesn't know if her work changes people, she just hopes it will. You (my reader) can make sparks also!

These are some of the pictures that affected me the most:







Keep up the work Kathryn! It matters!

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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Day - 66 Homelessrob Is Not Special

Last week I was on a "work ticket". I was unloading trucks with another guy. I met several truck drivers. You might find this hard to believe but I'm actually a pretty quiet guy. I didn't talk to much to any of the drivers. They just kind of hung out and did their own thing while I did mine. However, this one driver stood out. He was wearing a hat that said "I love Jesus". I walked around working, not really thinking too much about him, other than his hat. I certainly didn't think he would soon be crying to me.

It all started with 4 little words: "I love Jesus too". The words just slipped out of my mouth to him. It was the only thing I had even said to him. Soon he was talking to me. He told me about how he travels around in his truck and  gives out the same hat he was wearing. He said it was his way of planting seeds. Then he started telling me about his wife. She died of cancer. They had been together for about 24 years (if I remember right). Something told me to just listen to him. Let him say whatever he needed to. I did. And it didn't take long before I saw the tears. The man got ahold of himself pretty quick (I don't think he wanted anyone else to see him). Then he hopped into his truck where he stayed for about 10 minutes. Then he came out after I was finished working and gave me a "I love Jesus" hat and went on his way. I stood there waiting for my next truck thinking to myself "what just happened?" The answer was simple....... I listened!

Recently, I have been getting messages and emails from people. Its because of this blog and how I post it. These messages are far more than I ever expected to get. People are saying things to me I never thought I would ever hear. One woman called me "special". She doesn't know how or why she feels this way, it just is what is is.

People are also telling me their stories. I have to tell you, some of the things I read break my heart, that's the truth! No one has had anything bad to say about my blog (I'm grateful for that). The encouragement and motivation and praise are more than I deserve.

As for the stories - I don't know if I can handle that! I don't know if I'm cut out for it. Don't get me wrong, I love hearing from people and I certainly love the responses I get. I appreciate it all. I just don't know if I can handle it. I'm not going to stop what I'm doing! I owe it to more than just myself to keep blogging. I also know that I'm going to get a lot more emails before I reach my goal (if I ever do). But what I'm learning now is that through this blog I have a responsibility. These stories I read and the messages are not just a privilege for me but a responsibility also. I understand that!

When I started doing this blog 66 days ago I had no idea what I was doing. I knew just to be as honest as possible and just start talking and posting. I never really expected anything to come from it. Maybe just a "good luck" here or there. I didn't expect to make new friends. I didn't expect to get a new-found relationship with The Man! I didn't expect anyone to really even care or listen, to be honest. 4 years ago I didn't expect to ever be homeless either.

When the truck driver was telling me his story I felt uncomfortable. When a reader tells me his or her story I feel uncomfortable. I have a hard time with it. "I have my own stuff to weep about" I say to myself. Even as I write this I can feel my eyes swelling. Its hard for me! It also makes me think about my girls a lot too. I miss them!

I want you (my reader) to know that I care about you. All of you! I have been saying that I believe to fight homelessness we, as a people, need to practice "self suffer". I believe that what we need is to be able to come out of our "comfort zones" and sometimes do things we are not comfortable with. In light of that, I want to hear from you, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes me feel. I want to hear your story. I'm no one special! There is surly nothing great about me, that's the truth! But if you made the time to read my story, then I'll certainly make it a point to hear yours.

Thank you all for your kind words, your encouragement, and you ability to reach out to me when it matters to me the most. You keep me going! You are special - that's the truth!

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

Day- 64 Homelessrob Hits The Ground Walking

I have a friend that visits me on http://www.homelessforums.org/ . This is a homeless forum where people go to talk about homelessness. I go there because I believe in being in the conversation. I don't get to post much there in the way of responses. However, I do read a lot of the posts and I post quite a bit. My friend who goes by the name "milky_way" is very cool. He always responds to my posts with an encouraging attitude and more than a few kind words.

A little while ago, milky_way responded to a post I did called "Homelessrob VS. God". He liked it. However, he mentioned to me that I should change the title to "Homelessrob VS. Satin". In the post I mentioned that a never feel closer to God as when I'm homeless.

I considered milky_way's response for awhile and then decided not to change the title. The reason is that I feel its much harder to build a relationship with God than it is to fall into the temptations of satin while the chips are against you. God himself said "the path is narrow".

I said in my last post that homeless people are often overlooked for at least one fine quality - the ability to not take the chicken way out. Homeless people are not robbing your house (for the most part). For a homeless person to be on the streets and constantly be building a relationship with God, this is a tremendous thing. A blessing! However, it does feel like a bit of a fight with God. I got an email today from a friend of mine that said in her hard times she became born again. Since then she seems to not ever get a break. She has had it hard. She doesn't know where she stands. This is a prime example of what I mean.

When I became born again I was looking for answers to why I became homeless. I thought somehow that if I became a believer God would pull me up and make the pain stop. Give me back my kids. Give me a job that was good  to me. Get me back to where I had been all my life. Make everything all right again. 4 years later, God has done none of that! I'm still in the dump. I'm still homeless. This is a misconception people often have about God while becoming a believer. God will not just go and fix all that you think is wrong. He doesn't do that.

What God did do for me was so much more though. He opened my eyes. He made me a much more humble person. I needed that. He showed me things I had never felt  like love, compassion, kindness. God shared all the cold nights with me. God fed me when I didn't know how I was going to feed myself. When I was in danger, God protected me. When I was alone, God talked to me. God listened when I rambled. When I was scared, God comforted me. He never left my side even though I left His. Now I want Him back and I feel Him here. God has been with me every single step of the way. I am grateful.

Now, about my friend who doesn't know where she stands. I would say to her, "that's OK"! Its not always easy to have faith. It can at times be a bit of a struggle. Here is the fact of the matter though: If you are still in struggle about where you stand with God, then you haven't given up one Him yet!  I hope she takes care of herself. All I have ever known about her is that she is someone that has motivated me much to keep doing what I'm doing now. She always seems to move me when it matters most. I'm sure she will be reading this. I just want her to know that to me, her kindness and friendliness has moved me. I appreciate you, friend!

I kind of went in another direction here. Back to milky_way. So, it was in all this thinking that I remembered all the times I was walking around somewhere (being homeless). Got to go here! Got to go there! I hated all the walking. However, one thing I did love about it is the time I spent talking to God. I was always praying. I was always dialoguing with Him. I was always building my relationship with Him. It was no sooner that I was thinking these very thoughts when God spoke to me. "Walk it, Rob" he said! This order from God is in regards to my "mission".

Its all becoming clear what I need to be doing now. After the New Years and after I get my crosses made I am to start walking. State to state! Across the country! Building my relationship with God. Spreading homelessness awareness (as best I can). Using my crosses to (hopefully) to give hope to homeless people with the Word of God (the best I can) and all at the same time, trying to reach my goal (kids, home, car)!

Its all becoming clear what I need to do. Start here in Tampa, FL. End up in Randolph, VT with my goal achieved and my work done.

I feel this is what God has been telling me. I feel like this is His will, and I'm going to do it!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Day - 62 Homelessrob Occupys Homelessrob

I see that Newt Gingrich is now topping the GOP pools. This of course comes right after his comment to the Wall Street Protesters. If you didn't hear the comment it went something like this: after they (the protesters) take a bath they should get jobs. Then the crowd went wild. I noticed Hermin Cain smiling at that one. Personally I could care less who wins it, unless of course NONE of them win. To me these GOP candidates look like a bunch of Boy Scouts fighting over who should get the last "Flaming Arrow" badge. None of them stand out to me. Certainly not Newt, he has been in politics for, well, more than a minute. A minute is too long in my opinion. After Newt made that statement all I could think was "wow, Newt sits in a room where apparently no one is without a job and they all have a home".

But Newt Gingrich is not my concern today. Its actually the protesters. I either. However, I have had a chance to catch a few of the headlines. I believe one of the headlines I read was something like this: "Wall Street Protesters Look to the Homeless for help".

From my understanding this is what's going on: These protesters, being sick of the government, went into Manhattan and occupied a large park. These people had issues that ranged across the board, with one issue in common which was that they were mad at the people that put this country into the mess its in now. They got beef with those people, LOL. Then they got there and looked towards the homeless for help in regards to how they were going to survive in the park. Now there is a mixture of protesters and homeless people. I'm sure some of the original protesters were homeless.

My concern: this protest is making homeless people look bad. I'm glad that people out there are protesting the government. I understand that! But I have to wonder at who's expense is it costing. When I first heard (or read ) the first headline it was more towards the beginning of this protest. Since then, everything I hear or read sounds more like a bunch of homeless people invaded a park and are now running amuck. This should be a concern to all the protesters also. Newt's statement strongly hit home to me "take a bath and get a job".  That is a phrase used very commonly when regarding homelessness. I've also heard many complaints using the word "squatting". I don't know if that lady meant they were "camped out" in the park or if she had a problem with someone using the bathroom out side in the park. However, I believe I have heard of both these being a problem. All the references to the entire protest seem to me to be something that can pretty easily be related to homelessness as well.

My worry is that its all going in the wrong direction. The protesters are losing voice and homeless people are going to be looked at as the cause of the problem. The last thing I heard was the protesters were blocking traffic and running amuck. Oh, and yes, I have heard about what the cops are doing - bad cops, bad cops!!!!

Just so that people know, because homeless people are often not looked upon for the good things, homeless people are not known for causing problems. Sure you have some that do cause problems. However, its typically not something that happens. If you don't believe me consider this: Why do you see so many homeless people? I'll tell you, its because they are not in jail! Homeless people usually stay out of trouble. Its one of the overlooked facts about homelessness. Homeless people CHOOSE to live the hard life. Jail offers 4 things the streets do not: food, a roof, a shower, and a bed to sleep in. All things a homeless person struggles with each and every day to have. I mean, if all the homeless people in the country just simply got up and did like a "flash" spree of crimes that would make their life just a little better. Well, wouldn't the whole country just be in a jam then. But, homeless people don't do that. We choose to suffer and struggle and not take the easy way out.

So when I think of these protesters and think about how closely they resemble homeless people I can't help but think the worse. I do admire the protesters - don't get me wrong. Its a brave thing they are doing. But I do think its becoming a blow to the gut of homelessness people, too. IF people are looking at these protesters as a bunch of homeless people running around causing problems then this in affect might be closing doors for the homeless people. And also taking away the little creditability we have.

Of course this is all just my sloppy opinions. I could be WWWWAAAAAAYYYYYY wrong. If you disagree with me thats OK. This is simply how I feel the protest is going based off only a very little amount of information.

However, if you feel I'm right........ I should get your vote for presidency!

Say it loud!




HOMELESSROB FOR PRESIDENT!!!


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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Day -60 Homelessrob Has Not Even Started Yet

Its been two months now! I'm still alive. I'm impressed with myself at this point although I've done it before. I still am in a constant state of asking myself  the "how long" question though. I don't know. One thing I am sure of is that if my plan starts to go away I'll be looking at a very, very long time on the streets. In all reality....... I haven't even started.

I miss my kids! I miss them a lot. My little daughter, Jordy (as I like to call her), always tells me "things will get better". I tell her she's right, but I know that isn't always true. Fact is, I might not ever see them again for all I know.  I hate thinking like that, but I have to face the truth here. When you are homeless and away from your family, not ever seeing them again is a reality you must suck up and face. The sooner the better! I know to reach my goal its going to require a lot of time traveling and being on the road - and anything can go wrong. I'm OK with that part as long as I know that when I'm finished I'll have my kids back and a home for them.

I was on Twitter the other night talking to someone and just happened to say something like "I'd give my left arm for a video camera". Someone ( Mark Horvath, who I'll be mentioning in the future) read that line and offered to mail me one. God bless him. I do feel that while traveling, my "mission" I will need it. So, that's one less thing I have to worry about marking off my list of "things I need before I can start". It's a huge weight off my shoulders because I don't know how I would have gotten one on my own at this point.

The only thing I need to get started is the making of my crosses. Then I can go! I'm not in such a rush to get this spell of homelessness done and over with (once and for all) but I am in a bit of a rush to at least to get started on my "mission". Being active in this work would make me feel a whole lot better. I have crosses to give away. I have faith to help build up homeless people. I have the Love of God to be spreading. I have a goal to reach! ASAP!

HHHHHH but I suppose its all in Gods timing, not mine!

I've been going to church. Actually, I should say I was sent to a church. That's more how I feel, really. See, I finally realized I had to start going back before I could make my "mission" one that counts and is meaningful. I had to have my heart in it. I realized this when I couldn't get my crosses started in the past (I mentioned it in some of my other post).

I know when God is talking to me. I have learned that skill very well. God said "go to church! Sharpen your mind with my love, and wait".

Here in Tampa, FL there are many churches! God told me to go to the one I'm going to now. I think its kind of odd actually. Its not really a church I'd see myself in. The people that attend are kind of old. LOL, that's not a crack on them. I just noticed that about 90% of the congregation looks well over 50. I'm 32! I asked God "really, is this really where you want me?" God answered "Rob, don't you know by now to trust in me?" So, I don't know why God is being so specific about this particular church.

Right before I started going I seemed to be bombarded with other church attending offerings. "Come to our church" was all I heard for like a week. Going to these other places would have meant being around at least a few people I know (labor-finder co-workers). But God just kept telling me to go where I'm going now. He seemed adamant about it. I don't know what the "wait" portion of this is all about either. God just said "wait", so I am.

I don't talk to the people that go there very much. I'm pretty quiet, even in the Wednesday night study group. I can feel the members begin to become curious about me to and I know that the questions are about to start coming. I DO NOT like that part. I will NOT be telling any of them how I live, that's for sure. I made my mind up on that one before I ever walked in the building. That's the last thing I need - them thinking I want something from them and so that's why I'm going. Not to say they would judge me like that. I just want to open the door to that possibility. Besides, I get the feeling they already know and asking is strictly for confirmation purposes. Sometimes, I feel the relationship between homelessness and churches are to intertwine. (that's another post).

Either way, soon I'll have to break down and just get the P.O.box Ive been trying to avoid getting. I'll buy into the postal service because I've had enough of dealing with the postal service.

Dear Postal Service,
Why do you hate the homeless people so much? Don't you know how much we have in common?
We are both broke, looking for help from the government, and unemployed!

I'll get my P.O. box after New Years. Then I can maybe get some tax money back. I'll use that money to re-reinvest in my "mission" and hopefully get this ball rolling.

Don't really have anything in particular on my mind today. Just a bunch of blabbering! Hope you don't mind. Blogging seems to keep me sane while I have nothing else to do.


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Friday, November 18, 2011

Day-58 Homelessrob Can't Get Mail


I am so aggravated right now. Is it impossible for me to get some mail? I think it is. I've tried several times now. Recently I tried to use a church to get the mail. The church offers lunch 3 times a week. They also offer their address for the homeless to use.

First, I had a box delivered. This was a box filled with material I was going to use to make my crosses. I never got it. Later I found out that the box was returned. I figure "OK, this church just saw a box and returned it. They probably don't get boxes often and didn't know what to do with it."

Then, I had my mother send me some money. When I couldn't get my box I had the company refund my card (which my mother had, ... long story). This shouldn't have been a problem. My mom is cool, so she did it! I want to the church but the mail wasn't there.

At this point I'm furious. However, I take the time to relax! Calm down! Remember, this is a church! These people are trying to help. I think back to when I first realized this service was available. It was easy to remember, because I was very excited. I had already been having problems getting mail. So I asked myself: Did I ask then if they would take in a box? Yes, I did! They said "yes"! Did I ask then if I had to do anything to be able to take advantage of this service? Yes I did! The answer was "no"! Did I ask then if I had to talk to anyone first? Yes I did! The answer was "no"! What I was told to do was simply have the mail sent there and I would get it. That's it! They wouldn't send anything back and they would hold it there until I could get it.

Finally, after I had calmed down, I saw a man sorting through the mail. I began to ask him about it. He offered no help. After A few minuets someone else who was eavesdropping directed me to someone who was "better suited" to help me. I began asking her about my problem. She offered me no help. She just kind of kept saying the same thing "we don't return mail here", which I know isn't true. She also said "she didn't know me" which baffled me. She and I went around for a  about 1 minute. I kept my cool! I didn't want to because it was quickly becoming apparent to me that this service was a mess. I had been mislead, misinformed, and was now being shrugged off as if it were nothing. I could tell this woman didn't want anything to do with this.

It was at this point that I began my heart-felt plea for some understanding! "Miss, this has my life in it" I said. It was also at this point that she said one of the most insulting things anyone has ever said to me. "Then you should take responsibility for it" she said to me. I had no choice but to walk away. I could feel my blood was boiling at this point. It cost me all the energy I had to walk away. She simply did not care.



Between there and here I thought about it. Why did this make me so mad? Well, first of all I didn't have my mail. I tried to explain to her that I did everything right according to the people left in change of their "offering". I even tried to make it right by asking her if there was something I missed. Maybe I needed to introduce myself to her first, so that she would know that there was a homeless guy there that was going to be getting mail. She implied that! Her lack of understanding made me very upset. But it was the lack of understand that drives me crazy.

"Take responsibility"! She didn't know me from a hole in the ground. But because I was someone that needed to have mail sent there all of a sudden I'm not responsible. Does homelessness = irresponsibility all of a sudden?



Because I'm homeless I don't work! I don't pay child support! I'm a beggar! I drink every chance I get! I'm on drugs! Maybe because I'm homeless I am also fresh out of jail! Maybe because I'm homeless I beat girls! Maybe because I'm homeless I shouldn't even deserve that $100 my mom sent to me. Maybe because I'm homeless she has the right to judge me in front of a room full of people who don't even know me at all. Maybe because I'm homeless I'm just the bad guy. Maybe because I'm homeless I cant get by without her help!

GGGGGRRRRRRR! I'm letting it out now because I'm none of that. I work everyday I get a chance. I pay my support. I stay out of trouble. I don't do drugs. I haven't had a single drink since I've been on the streets (I also don't drink that often as it is). I don't go out and beg people for money or help every time I see someone either. I've never hit a girl! I do not deserve to be judged because of this mess I fell into. If I was irresponsible I surely wouldn't be trying so hard to get out. That little bit of mail did have my life in it and I had to take a day off to get what should have been there.

So here it is, a woman who has now judged me and shut me out. I don't ever want to go back there again. I'd rather starve. Not that I eat there often anyway. I might have had about 3 lunches there all together. I'm mad though. Not because I didn't get the mail. Not even because she judged me. But mostly because this woman has no idea what - or who - she's "helping".

I find this to be a common thing. I have stated this fact in quite a few previous posts. I have asked this question "why try to help something you don't understand?" I don't get it. If she wanted to help the homeless she would know how important mail is. If you are going to offer that service to homeless people you'd best get that one right. She should also know that homeless people are movers. She is NOT going to know every face that walks though the she door. I recognized her. I saw her all 3 times I was there. I just didn't know I apparently had to introduce myself to her.

I like seeing people helping. I admire people that go out of their way to do what's right. This woman seems to be more worried about her image than what or who she's helping. That's my opinion. However, in the fight against homelessness, she isn't the first and only. In fact, I have ran into a few people like this (I have mentioned some of this in the past).

Homelessness is something that takes UNDERSTANDING. You can not help the homeless if you cant understand them. It simply won't work! Its not like H.I.V.  so that if you donate money to help stop H.I.V then that's what you did and H.I.V is that much closer to being cured. If you tell a homeless person that you will take in their mail and you didn't hold true to your word, that homeless man might starve for the next 3 days.

Usually my posts are not like this. Today is just that day though. Homelessness isn't always a pretty thing.

I feel like I'm bashing this lady! Really, what I want to bash is the source of her judgment. Because that's the problem. There are a few (very few) things that it will take to bring the stop of homelessness into a reality. Understanding is one of those things. This lady doesn't understand. She simply sees something that she feels is nasty, dirty, filthy, and tries to clean it up. That isn't going to work. It never has! EVER! You can't clean this up with a quick little polish. Homelessness is something you have to kill from the inside. To be on the inside you have to understand it. You don't have to live it! Just try to understand it.

I just wanted a response from this lady. Some understanding. Something more than the "don't know, don't care, you're not responsible" reaction that she gave me.

HHHHH, I feel like I'm onto something here! But just not getting it out right. Like I'm not reading between the lines right. I'm going to post this anyway and just see what people say.

I do feel I'm on the right path though. This is not about the mail. This is about something bigger!



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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day - 56 Homelessrob Update

It has been awhile since I have really talked about me, my plan, and where I'm at as far as getting off the streets.

Not much has changed really. Its day 56. I'm still alive (that's always a good sign). I'm still in the tent, way back in the brush. I actually called it (to myself) my home a few times. I didn't like that. It means that I have gotten comfortable. I do like that I kind of have a spot of my own though. That is nice. I can go there any time I need to and sleep, change clothes, brush my teeth, and put stuff down. That's about as comfortable as I need to be.

Day-labor still does not pay me anything. However, at least I have been going out on work tickets. It gives me just enough money to eat, take care of myself, and put a few bucks in my pocket. I am grateful. I am getting a little nervous though because of the holidays. I don't think there is going to be much work then. I'll have to spend the money I have saved to get through and have to start all over in January, I think. I hope not. God, I hope not.

I sent out my resume a few times. No responses. I think its because on my resume I put that they had to respond via. email if they were interested. Not too smart. My phone bill is $50 a month. I'd rather not pay it right now. Maybe after I get some more money in my pocket first. I should just start posting my resume everywhere I can. I'm a machine operator. My resume is crazy good. I'll have to think that one over.

My crosses have gone nowhere. I don't have the money right now to invest in them. Besides, I felt that before I could ever even get started on that I should start going back to church again. Pray on it a little more. Make sure my heart was in it, first. So, I have been going to church and doing all those things. I still feel its what I'm being called to do. I just have to wait until God sees it a fitting time for me. Right now is not the time. I need to refresh my brain and soul with the love first. And I will!

I mentioned to a guy at day-labor that I was homeless. Normally I don't do that. But I did this time. He offered to let me sleep at his place any time I needed. That was pretty nice of him. I was kind of shocked because he just kind of came out with it. I only mentioned it to him because we were talking about a job he might be able to help me get. Then he told me about staying at his place. I won't do it though. I don't want to intrude on him and his wife. Also, I think if I did stay at his place it wouldn't take long before the stay would be extended. That's a rule I have. I can NOT go down someone else's path no matter how tempted I am to do so. If I do I'll just wind up back on the streets before long.

I have talked to my little girls a few times in the last couple of weeks. That felt GREAT! They still love me! I don't know how or why but they still do. I did lie to my littlest one though. She asked me specifically if I lived in a house or apartment. I forgot what I told her. It was a lie though. I think that's the first time I ever lied to either of them. I felt bad about it. I remember thinking about how I could sort of "redirect" her question. But I couldn't, and the lie just came out! They don't know that I'm homeless. Someday I'll tell them, but just not now!

So, despite all this....... I'm doing well, LOL! It's almost the second month. I can wait for the holidays to be done. My health is good, my mind is at least half right, and I'm still alive! That's all I can ask for at this moment.

Oh, and I would like to take the moment to thank all the people that read my slop of a blog here. It means a lot to me. I like the encouragement you give me. I also like the responses I get. VERY NICE! THANK YOU ALL!

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Day -53 Homelessrob on Tyra Banks


I didn't know what it was about this picture that bothered me. I found it a few weeks ago while I was looking for some other pictures. It caught my attention because something just didn't look right to me. It looked staged. It stuck out because every other picture I saw under google "images" for "homelessness" looked real.

Then I read the cardboard. It says "will pose for change". Then I looked closer and saw that it was Tyra Banks in the picture. I was mad! Furious, even! I said to myself "here it is, some more marketing of the homeless". "Tyra Banks has got to get in on it too". I thought "how much more popular does she need to be?"

"Will pose for change." I read that line about 20 times. I swear my face turned red. To me the picture doesn't even look realistic. It not dirty enough. Where is the trash? Where is the spray paint on the walls? Those cloths look pretty clean to me! Where is she? In some sort of up-scale corner on the cleanest street in the country? This is what I thought!

I understood the message. "Will pose for change." This is Tyra Banks' way of asking people to look at homelessness in a different way. For her to do this - sure, it makes sense. She is doing her part in her own way. That's all we can ask for and even though I think this picture looks a little silly, I got the message. She did her work well enough for that.

So, why did I get so mad? Kind of a silly thing to get mad about isn't it? Well, I thought about that too. Finally (last night) it occurred to me. I wasn't mad at Tyra Banks for making a silly picture about homelessness. I was mad at me for understanding it in the first place. I was mad because it took one of the most gorgeous women in the world  to get my attention about homelessness. It was even worst for me because I am homeless! I deal with it every day.

You see, when I saw this picture I got mad. Why? Because I DID noticed it! Because I DID responded to it. Because I felt others would respond to it. Why the response? Because it is Tyra Banks and it is a bit of an unrealistic picture. Its fake! I have never in my life seen a woman who looked anything like Tyra Banks in the streets. I'm sure there are super model gorgeous women out there, I just haven't seen them. That might sound harsh. I'm not trying to say that the women in the streets are ugly, either. But look, even in the picture Tyra doesn't look bad. I think you know what I mean. Super model gorgeous women in the streets are a hard find! I'll leave it like that (before I offend someone). And that's why I got mad! Because it took a super model celebrity in a fake picture to get my mind thinking about homelessness.



So, why is it when I see this picture above, I feel nothing? This is a realistic picture. Heck, this is something I see all the time. I know its real. This is homelessness. Yet, I have no response. Maybe because to me its an everyday thing and I'm used to it. Maybe because she has no sign up. Maybe because there is no direct message here. 

If I was walking down the street and saw this woman in an alleyway I would honestly keep walking and be about my business. But if the next alleyway I passed a super model asking people to change the way we view homelessness I would probably stop and consider it. This is the truth about me!

Homelessness is still something that needs to whack me in the face, head on, before I change my views on it. That's why I got mad. Because it wrong! Its bad thinking! To you, I say the truth about me. Because if you came to this blog and are taking the time to read what I write you deserve no less than the truth. I'm filled with shame sometimes that I think this way. Tyra Banks sends me more of a message with a done up pose and witty sign than the woman in the second picture. When the real truth is that the woman in the second picture is telling me the exact same thing. She is saying "homelessness is real". She is saying "homelessness is in your face". She is saying "Rob, you have got to change". She is saying "America needs change". Even though she doesn't have a witty sign, I know her message is real. She doesn't have to pose. The near sight of her should speak volumes to me! But it doesn't and that's my fault, because I haven't listened!

Now, I'm speaking for myself here. How do you feel about it? When you see something on T.V about homelessness does it strike you harder in the heart than while driving down the street and you see the real deal? Does it take a beauiful woman, or any other celebrity, to get you to think about it?

I hope you (the readers) understands what I'm saying here. I know I'm confusing at times. I'm not a writer after all.  And as for Tyra Banks (I hope she doesn't sue me for using that picture) I'll say this: Thank You! Tyra plays her part. That picture did change me in a way. It opened my eyes to the problems of homelessness in a round about way.

 I always feel that any help counts. I also feel that its in the anger I felt that the change was made. I tell people all the time: if we don't stir the "pot of homelessness" nothing will change. If I didnt' get upset about the topic then what will change? Also, to Tyra's credit, before I did this post I had to find that picture of her - I had to download it onto my computer. In the process of doing so I found another picture of Tyra posing homeless (below). I think this is a much more realistic picture! Its almost safe to say that if I saw her while walking down the street I might just keep walking.




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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Day 52- Homelessrob Has A Homelessman

So, what's it like for a homeless dad? How does it differ from being a homeless mom? I asked for a topic on Twitter. I like doing that because it keeps me sharp! There are plenty of good people on Twitter who are helping the homeless I have learned.

When I grew up I learned that hard work and supporting your family was what makes you a man. So, that's all I did. However, I was far from a good dad when it came to my kids. How can you be when all you ever do is work? I should have known it would be that way. I learned it from my step-dad (I consider him my dad). Its all he ever did. He was in the military. He worked all the time. If he wasn't working - I'm not sure where he was - but it wasn't with me or my brothers. I'd like to say he wasn't cheating on my mom. He just needed "his time". I also believe that to be true. I have it on pretty good authority he learned his great work ethics and absent dad mannerisms from his own dad. Growing up I saw (or should have seen) this pattern. A good dad I am not! I provider for my kids - I was!

So, there I was, strolling my way through life, supporting my kids, their mom and myself! Doing a good job of it too, I would say! Except for the 'not-saving-my-money-better part. Then, I lost it all! I mean I lost EVERYTHING. It didn't take long either. Just a few months and then, there I was, all by myself in a empty house, with no lights and only a few bucks. I was smart and sent my kids with their mother. She had a place to go to and my kids were safe there. I thank God for that. At the time however, I didn't thank God. No, I was MMMMMAAAAADDDD!. I yelled "Why me! What did I ever do? Why do I deserve this??" Funny how the first person a non-believer blames is God. It must be one of His jokes because where was I next? I was in church!

Let me ask you something: If you were driving down the street and you saw that you had an opportunity to give either a man with child or a woman with child money, who would you give it to? If it was me I'd have to give it to the woman. Why? Because (and I'm very, VERY sorry for saying this) the woman is deemed the weaker of the two and less likely to survive the streets. Therefore, she needs more help. I BELIEVE, this is how SOCIETY thinks also.

I feel foolish for even writing that (I'm still going to post it). But that's how I think most men were meant to act. And also, I believe it's how society wants us to respond. I think even though a woman knows that's simply not a true statement, she would still feel somewhat the same way and respond the same way. I think if I was handing the man money and my mom was there she would slap me, and it would be well deserved! The man is looked at to be the more street strong. It isn't even that a woman can't make it on the streets (she can). Its that the man can handle the "suffer" part better. The man can endure the hard times better. Society put this in our brains.

Does the child in this matter even matter? I don't think so!

Now, there are some stipulations (of course). Like, if that woman is a prostitute or a junky, then a woman is damn near hated. The kid should be with the dad and he gets mad respect if he is any bit a decent dad. If the man is the junky (or prostitute, for that matter) then the mother is simply thought of as absent, I suppose (really don't have a thought on that one, that thought really never occured to me. I wonder why?).

Which is harder? The homeless mom with a kid or the homeless dad with the kid? I think it depends on how you look at it. I think because of the way society seems to be (the blabber above) its the woman that has the less struggle being homeless. No one wants to see a woman with her kids on the streets. However, that's physical help. She's going to get more help with housing, shelter support, state support, and even "person to person" support. Now, that's not to say she will not feel it mentally. I'm not saying that at all. Every homeless person feels it mentally - man or woman - it does not matter.

Regarding the homeless man with the kid, I think the first thing he is told after telling someone he is homeless with a kid is to give the kid up to the state or surrender his right to the mother. Physically, I think the man would also get less help, because again, he is simply expected to make it through the "suffer" part better. Mentally I think the man takes it harder too.

as for me, when I went homeless it was like I died. All of a sudden I wasn't what I had always been: The provider. It was what I did. It was what I was good at. Actually, it was the only thing I was good at. When I couldn't be that anymore I felt like a bum. I felt I was looked at by fellow men as a bum. I felt like women looked at me as a bum (for that one I still do. What woman wants a man that is homeless? Well, that's another post.) I was raised to be the one thing I could no longer be. I wasn't a man anymore. It didn't even matter why! For me I had a mental beat down. Society crushed me, for not being able to do what society told me I had to do in the first place.

Well, I can say this: I have learned at least one thing through being homeless. My kids still love me. For them, my working all the time wasn't even a problem (they seem to understand that a man works). For them it was about the time I did spend with them and how I spent that time. I was never good on that part. I spent time with them, don't get me wrong. I just didn't know how to do it in a connecting way with them. Well, I have a lot to learn as far as that goes. I swore, 1 trillion times, that when this mess ends, things would be different between us. I hope I can live up to that. Today, I hope I can live up to my kids.

As for society, on the matter of a homeless man and a woman with kids. It's all a mess. Once again, I believe it all comes from the "marketing of homelessness". To me, the problem is that when I give the woman with a kid money it would be because I made that choice in the first place. I had to decide. I would ask myself "who needs the help more" and chose the woman because to me it seems to be more (I almost want to say "human") "socially fitting". What I should really ask myself is  "how can I help these two homeless people" or something along those lines. I should never consider the sex of the homeless individual in the first place.

Now, for the women out there that are ticked off at me - Please understand, I DO NOT think being homeless is easy for you in any way. If you are a woman on the streets and you have your kid with you trying to do right, I commend you! You don't need my respect, but you have it! I know its not easy. I'll tell you the truth here, too. Honestly: women are probably the more street smart. The more likely to survive. And that is because they are women. Women are smart and true survivors. I have personally learned several things from women in the streets. Gosh, I can't even think of the amount of stories I have heard about a man leaving a woman and kid to the streets to fend for herself. I wasn't that man! I had to let my kids go!

So, please understand that these are just my opinions. This is how I believe people in general feel when they see a woman or a man with a kid on the streets. Please don't be mad at me!


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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day - 49 Homelessrob And The Chronic Circle Jerk of Homelessness

LOL, I'm going to keep asking for topics on Twitter! Twitter is full of people fighting homelessness!

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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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Day- 45 Homelessrob Would Reather Not Be In A Shelter

A little bit ago I asked for something to write about on Twitter. This is the topic that was suggested to me: government spending on permanent housing vs. emergency shelter funding for the homeless. Which $$ is better spent?

I hope I do well!

A few days ago I was at a church having my day-lunch. I saw a woman who was volunteering there asking some homeless people if they had any interest in a "cold weather shelter". The church was about to invest in one.  All the homeless people she asked said "no".  It was almost as if they thought they were not going to get cold this winter. They had no interest. I had to think about this a little. I came up with a few reasons why a homeless person wouldn't want a shelter.

First, besides asking for spare change, homeless people often do not want to burden anyone. They don't! They need to burden others sometimes in order to survive, but often they feel bad for it. Asking for help is humiliating. To come out and say "hey, I'm homeless, can you please help me" is not easy to do and sometimes the "F### U###" they receive for asking comes as way of being spit upon. I have seen this.

Second, homeless people are "conditioned". What I mean is that when this group of homeless people was asked if they wanted help staying warm, I think the first or second thought in their head was "why, I've been through the cold before - I will do it again!"

Last, because they were offered a shelter in the first place. Homeless people do not care for shelters. Shelters are usually bad places. They are hard to get into and they smell bad. They are full of bugs, diseases and other things you don't want on you. Your stuff will get stolen (sometimes by staff members) and fights break out. I'm willing to bet that if you ask 100 homeless people were they felt safer and would rather be...... a shelter or a jail.... 70% of them would say jail. Shelters don't have much to offer the homeless, that's the truth! Homeless people will use a shelter but usually don't want to for these reasons.

Me, I have a tent and a sleeping bag. I day labored for 3 days to make that happen. But I'm glad I did. I have my tent stashed way back in the brush on a wild life reserve. I don't care for the animals I hear all around me at night, but I'd rather deal with that than be peed on in the middle of the night because I stayed in a shelter. I'm sure I'll have a few cold mornings this winter but I'll survive. Its a no brainer for me. Tent or shelter? I'll take the tent!

So, as for the topic at hand - Which is better and which should be funded?

In my opinion the shelters should be funded. I'll explain why.

Lets say you drop $20,000 into a homeless housing project. Now that project can build a $20,000 home for a family of 4. Good for you! You are awesome! You are someone who makes the world go around! From the bottom of my heart - Thank You! You have just moved a family out of poverty. BUT, you still have one problem: will that family stay off the streets? MMMMMM interesting! You see, before anyone can truly overcome homelessness there has to be some self-change. Remember, homelessness comes in spells sometimes. What didn't work for me before I became will homeless will not work for me now, either. Does that family you just drooped 20 grand on understand that? Are they making life changes? Or did you just give them a free ticket, a free pass for the moment?

Now, lets say you take that same 20 grand and drop it into a shelter. Then that shelter does things to improve the lives of the people. They open a computer lab for work searching. They add a few beds. They add a few showers. They have money now to start a bus pass program. They get some phones. They hire some volunteer staff members that are interested in helping the homeless instead of babysitting the homeless. There is a big difference between the two. They have money to promote more and ask for donations. They add resources that help homeless people get off the streets. Now all of a sudden you have a shelter that homeless people are interested in.

OK, now you ask me "well, homelessrob, what about the self change?"

I'll tell you this: Any homeless person who works towards becoming not homeless is showing self change. How would they if you just give them a home?

So, my answer to the question at the top of this post is ....shelters. Invest in the shelters we have now. Make them more homeless friendly. Make then less of just a place to get a nap and more a place to have all the resources you need to get off the streets. That's what we need. Help build up a shelter and you will see that homeless people who don't want to be homeless anymore will use it more.

And for you, the investor, just understand this: instead of taking a family of 4 off the streets completely you are helping several people with families get off the streets instead.

Once again, these are just my opinions and scattered thoughts! If you get mad about what I'm saying then I'm sorry about that. on the other hand, maybe it's GOOD if you get a little angry! I say that because at least you're thinking about what I'm saying and talking about it. When we start thinking and talking..... we start fixing!

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day-43 You Are About To Get Mad At A Homeless Man

I had to think about doing this post. Its touchy! Before I start I have to say a few things first.

First, I do not mean to offend anyone (I'm sure I will though).

Second, I care very much for our vets. My dad served 23 years in the army (then became a pizza delivery man for a while. Now he is a truck driver, doing what he loves). I was raised an army brat. I consider my home away from home to be Fayetteville, NC (Fort Bragg). I have several friends that serve in the army (three of them are captions) and I care for them very much. I spent most of my life around the army. You could say that I know the military as good as any other unlisted person. I respect what they do, putting there lives on the line. It is a shame how they get treated when they come home.

Last, I love this country!

Now, with that said let me get to the point. I have recently been reading blogs and post about homeless vets. How they come back physically and mentally........ hhhhhh..... not as they where..... lets just say that. I feel bad for them. They do the greatest honor a person can do for there country..... and wind up homeless. I get it. I see these same homeless vets all the time.

The problem isn't them (nore will it ever bee). My problem is these posters and loggers. I read one blog that stated "solution to homeless vet problems". It offered solutions such as : "homeless prevention", this is where you stop a vet from becoming homeless. Another was something like this "homeless transitional housing" where a vet can have a place to stay Intel he gets back on his feet.

I read this and was pretty mad. I didn't know why at first. I had to think it over. But then it hit me. These "solutions" where really nothing. NOTHING at all! In fact the only this this blog offered was the awareness that HUD was helping the vets now.
Let me break this down a little. You (my reader) cares for the vets. I care for our vets. The blogger cares for the vets. This country cares for the vets. HOMELESSNESS does NOT care for the vets. I'll take it a step further for you: homelessness does NOT care about me, you, this country, or anyone..... EVER!

Also, If you feel that homeless cant get to you.... you have a problem. NO ONE is outside the reach of homelessness. At best, you might get away with being "a little less likely", and that's at best.

But here we are. Someone blaming mental and physical problems on vet homelessness. Hey, I understand how that can happen ( I would never ask my dad what he saw). Bet here is the thing: there are many homeless people out there with those same problems that are not vets. What does this blog offer: "homeless prevention" or "dint become homeless in the first place". WOW, why didn't anyone else think of that one! Also, "transitional housing"....... that sounds like a shelter we have those everywhere. Now I can understand if this blog is saying something like "hey, we are on the verge of coming up with some bran new stuff that will prevent vets from becoming homeless" then stated so REAL new stuff the keeps our guys off the streets. But they are not.

Once aging I call this "capitalization on the homeless market" and this is wrong. What it does is it main streams a particular type of homeless person. Homelessness is homelessness no matter how you cut it. Listen to this : "homeless child" , "elderly homelessness", "pregnant teen homelessness".......... you just stoped thinking about the vets didn't you?

Another blog read something like this "should fixing homelessness be a community based problem"? What they where asking was " should he leave a community alone to fix there own homeless problems"? What I have a hard time understanding was how anyone could ask such a dumb ass question. The answer is NO!
Why? Because, as sure as I know you (my reader) can become homeless someday I'm as equally sure that homelessness is in your back yard (rather you see it or not).

But I have faith, and an understanding that homelessness is what it is, a problem! All problems can be fixed. Homelessness can be to. Who, you ask me (since I seem to know it all about the topic). Well, I don't know! But I can tell you a few things.

Homelessness will not be fixed the rout we are going now. With the fighting about it. With the marketing of it. We as a people must treat homelessness as what it is: A world wide human catastrophe that's everywhere. Homelessness is not in the backyard 3 doors down. If you are a member of the human race, understand, homelessness is on your front door.

20 years  ago where we ever going to overcome H.I.V?
20 years ago where we ever going to overcome cancer?
A few hundred years ago where black people ever going to have freedom?
10 years ago where gays ever going to ba able to have a legal marriage?
Was a woman ever going to be equal to a man?

At one point there where all problems! Today... yes, still problems! But as you think about it you know that these problems have want from impossible to .......... something better.

If we stop fighting, stop marketing, stop being so scared to take a chance, step out of the box for a second, has we have done before, we can over come this problem. Treat homelessness as if you where homeless. Lets stop splitting it into categories and you will see can fight it..... and win!

These are just my scattered opinions....... maybe I've got it all backwards!

My point is this: We are not ever going to fight off homelessness going the way we are. Homelessness does not car about who we are or our special needs. We need to stop encourageing homelessness and fight it with the same amount of forcefullness...... and more!
I believe them tho! We are good people. I believe that to!

I'm not trying to make anyone mad here. I also understand that I talk far fetched at times. Once aging, I also have respect for the vets and anyone that players a part in homeless prevention in any way. Help is help no matter how big or small.

You have a right to be mad at me if you want. I'll respect that! It least your thinking about the problem now. Homelessness is like a white sauce....... if you don't sturr it up every once in a while......in burns!


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