WHAT TO DO ABOUT THE HOMELESS
We have long since figured out, what we are doing for the homeless is either wrong or not enough and some would say too much.
More and more the word enabling, comes up. Is it about time we look closely at the idea of helping someone to the point of letting them think, going along as they are, is sufficient or, the best they can ever do? On the other hand, is it a wrong thing, helping them get to the next stepping stone across the wide river of survival?
Let us start out at some kind of beginning. Number one, anyone arguing, discussing, pondering or condemning must first put themselves in the shoes of those we are considering. That, a difficult thing at best.
Wake up! Yes, this could be you or a family member, parent, child or friend.
We live in a time when addictions can catch even the most cautious. Bankruptcy is happening to very wealthy people who thought they were in positions where it would never happen. Illnesses, both mental as well a physical are putting people on the street. Family and friends are not always there as we had expected. One has only to read a little news to see that could have been themselves. Not a simple matter to those who it has happened to.
For lack of better descriptions, I will refer to the various situations people are in as, being down or up.
All of us have had days when we just couldn’t do what we felt we needed to and so we may fall back to a pill, drink, food, gambling or other vice that is not productive. Not so bad because the next day we will be back in service and be able to make up for our miniscule set back.
The people who are down are set back so far it is almost impossible for them to even come up with a plan to move forward. Paperwork is lost or maybe was never collected. Drivers license, Birth records, Social security cards, medical records can not be kept in your pocket very long when you are on the street. Friends and family no longer want them, are able to help or in many cases the person in need is so far down they will refuse help from family, be it pride or some kind of selfishness.
A shelter as we know it, sounds like the answer and to so many, that is the solution to the problem. People will say, I am contributing to a shelter so I am doing a good thing and their meaning is terrific. Unfortunately, a roof and food are not much further than where the marginalized person was before they came to the shelter.
These poor souls are usually able to find shelter in an old car, abounded building, some form of tent or homemade shelter be it cardboard and plastic and as for food, the dumpsters provide castoffs that are often clean, packaged and free for the taking.
Many, live in subsidized housings and are no longer considered homeless. Some of those places are hardly places we would consider spending our life in.
I know of several who have died and it was not for the lack of food or shelter.
If people are to move up and out of their low place, they need much more, or in a way, less. How costly is love or caring ?
Many of the “down” people I have met are willing to do a little to earn their way. Little chores which could eventually turn into larger accomplishments.
What is needed is a somewhat self-supportive, 24hour center or large place where several things can come together, in a way that will allow, invite and encourage those who are down, to mingle with those who are up and eventually mimic a lifestyle conducive to what society expects.
A center should be located in an area where the homeless and marginalized will be accepted and harassment minimalized. Of course, rules are necessary but the rules must be thought through and applied accordingly. Those wanting to stay there should understand it is there home and be asked to be involved as much or as little as can be expected. To some, making a bed may require weeks or months of talking, while others may be able to run errands with a vehicle, paint a wall, cook a meal or more.
The center would have to be segregated, between those who comply with the rules and those who are learning the value of going along with the program or not used to helping each other.
A center should have a very large outside area for games, picnics as well as various kind of construction, landscaping, large storage containers, physical activities and an open-air chapel.
We are a throwaway society so there is no better time for “One man’s junk is another’s treasure”.
Salvaged items can be repaired, used in the shelter, sold at a summer sale, sent to the scrap yard, recycled in so many ways and all while teaching the poor, what they can do with a little. Furniture and appliances are thrown out all the time in the better neighborhoods. Many of these things can be repaired and recycled.
As it is, these same homeless people are served terrific donated and prepared meals, living in some pretty nice surroundings and are seeing the kind of life they might never be able to achieve on their own. We should be showing them a life style they could eventually achieve.
Between government surplus and private donations, I doubt if any ten centers could ever run out of unprepared food. Those in need, see us driving through a fast food place, in a nice vehicle and having a sandwich thrown through the window with an oversized drink and they feel that is where they should be. They see that as up.
If the same poor souls had the chance to help preparing a good meal, using up some of the unprepared free donations they might just see things a little different.
This is not for general discussion. As far as I know, most people are quite satisfied and in fact proud of what they have now in the way of shelters. I have talked with a few and head shaking is about all I have got back. As I said in the beginning, it is a big issue and so many are content to contribute to something being satisfied with their action, and walking away. I never want to damage that.
Thank you for your time,
WJR III October 6/2019