Instead of writing the homeless off as useless bums, encourage them and help them to better themselves.
Unfortunately, some members of the homeless community make a bad name for the homeless, and the public puts a one size fits all label on them.
For sure, there are problem people among the homeless – the druggies, the drunks, people with mental problems. Recently, I experienced an example of people who have the gimmees. This reflects an attitude in this country, as particularly exemplified in Bernie Sanders, et al, that people are entitled to what others have.
I picked up a formerly homeless friend at a bus stop and a woman who had just become homeless who was talking to him, waiting for the bus. I dropped the man off at Walmart and took her to the Oxford Valley Mall. She wanted to stop at the nearby Salvation Clothing Store, so I waited for her at the mall while I ate lunch. She also wanted to stop at a church and gave me the impression she was going there for help with her homeless problem. Instead, it was a quixotic quest. At one point, she got on the phone and told a friend that I would drive her to his place, which was on the other side of town.
I refused (she hadn’t even asked me).
I told the woman that she could get clothes free at some of the community dinners. “I don’t like what they have,” she quipped. When she got her change when she checked out at the Salvation Army, she asked the clerk what date was on a penny. I preempted the woman as the clerk went for her reading glasses, telling her we have to get going in order to take her to the bus that will take her to a free meal.
She begged me to drive her to the meal because “I want to be there when the doors open.” I firmly told her that I would take her to the free bus. I did. When we got there I pointed out where people pick up the bus, as we drove by waiting people. She said she wanted to go into the nearby library.
I reminded her about the bus stop.
I met the guy I dropped off at Walmart at the library and took him to the meal. I left the woman on the ash heap of history.
Other homeless people, however, don’t think they are entitled to the services of others, including the guy I dropped off at Walmart. When it snowed this winter, some homeless people found work shoveling snow.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, a city worker has been offering homeless people work cleaning up the city and offered food, shelter, and other services for their efforts.
This is the kind of thing we need in Bucks County, PA.
Given the opportunity, homeless people will work. I overheard a conversation at a community meal between two homeless people about working. They both were working sporadically. One of them said he wants to get into a routine.
Some homeless people have done volunteer work and go to the library to further their education. I’ve seen homeless people reading books outside of the library. On a few occasions, they were discussing Shakespeare.
Since I started hanging around the homeless two years ago, some of them have found work and have moved on. Recently, a homeless friend got a job in another state.
There are other ways the homeless can help themselves. The public library in Levittown, PA offers a chair yoga class. After having lived in my car a few months, I started stiffening up. My feet swelled. The yoga class helped me get the knots out, helped me relax, and even helped keep internal organs healthy. Kava tea also helped relax my muscles.
In Bucks County, finding shelter is the biggest problem. The “emergency” shelter has a months long waiting list, and it takes a year or two to get county assisted housing.
By offering homeless people work, they can save up for housing. Still, some people have a hard time getting the money for housing and they could use some help.
Housing first is a good idea. Yesterday I read a piece on Facebook where an advocate championed housing first. The only part of the advocate’s plan I question is the idea of putting people with addictions and other mental health problems in housing first. The advocate’s plan is to provide housing for all homeless people and link them with the services they require.
Some problems don’t require institutionalization. It’s a matter of degree. The druggies from the recovery houses in Levittown, however, should be sequestered in a place as is the case of insane asylums. The 12 Steps program talks about addictions as “insanity.” The druggies are unleashed on the community during the day where they create problems. A security guard was added to the library as a result.
Refugees from the recovery houses join the ranks of the homeless in lower Bucks County and end up in the woods and the emergency shelter. Between them and the drunks who go through the revolving door at the shelter, there is overcrowding.
Some homeless, even those who need extra help should get into housing first and get the services they need. Besides getting regular work, they can get into programs to help them. As the guy I picked up at the bus stop says “we all have baggage.”
Churches and church related have stepped up to the plate. The hosts at the community meals have been developing relationship with their guest and mentor them. The 12 Steps Journey program is offered at two different churches in Bucks County, one on Tuesday nights and one on Thursday nights.
In many areas, such as Bucks County, the homeless are unwanted and are harassed. They are humans made in the image of God, yet people treat them like pestilence. As I illustrated in previous blogs, they are discriminated against in places such as the public library in Levittown. One several occasions, the Bucks County guard from the municipal building has tried to shoo homeless people from the Veteran’s Memorial, although they were following the rules.
On one occasion, the guard said that some people who wanted to visit the memorial “feel uncomfortable” going to the memorial with the homeless people there. A standard ploy he has used is that the county commissioners are coming and they need to skedaddle. Really?
Another guy and I came up with the idea of having the homeless fix up and manage vacant property in Bucks County, in the spirit of the Homestead Act of 1862. http://www.timespub.com/2015/04/30/working-for-a-place-to-stay/
A homeless friend who expressed interest in this project suggested that we filter people who need shelter. We would direct people with addictions and other major problems to the proper place, and direct other people to a place that simply provides shelter. I like the idea.
This is a compromise between the view of the advocate who doesn’t want any filtering for housing and the view of an official who is with the Bucks County Health Department. This official flatly said that housing first is a bad idea. He thinks that every homeless person should go to a place to get straight before getting housing. This presupposes that all homeless people have such serious issues that they are not fit for a residence.
The official offered me housing in exchange for me allowing myself to be labeled incurable, that I was so messed up mentally, disabled, that I was unable to work the rest of my life. I turned him down and told him that this would be fraud.
The advocate ignores the fact that there are some homeless people who need to be institutionalized before getting housing. No housing first for them.
One size doesn’t fit all. We need to give the homeless an opportunity to help themselves.