I find it sad that even among homeless people, there's this warped attitude that someone can be less homeless than anyone else who is not housed. The fact is, homeless is homeless no matter how you try to quantify it. No one person's experience will define everyone's homelessness so it's laughable when other homeless people try to argue about whose more homeless than they are.
Some homeless situations are bad because the individual made it that way, but most of the folks I see out here are doing everything they can to change their lives around. But what about folks who experience a life event out of their control that sends them into homelessness? Nobody asks to have their life savings wiped out due to hospital bills or job loss yet they still get judged by other people as though it's their fault. Where's the sanity in that?
Here's another thing I've noticed out here; the longer people have to stay in what they see as a hopeless situation, the faster they are tempted into drugs, alcohol or prostitution to either escape reality or make money any way they can in the hopes of being able to earn enough to put a roof over their heads. The first signs of frustration I see on people's faces usually happen right after they've called 2-1-1. Calling 2-1-1 does not guarantee room or a spot on a shelter's waiting list nor will it prompt government agencies into sending more funds into housing programs to get people out of homelessness. Going to local churches doesn't mean you'll be housed either although you might get food vouchers, a free meal and a list of "resources" that may or may not exist. Some places offer showers a couple nights a week or laundry service but that's about it.
For those of you who like to complain about all the homeless people around, did it occur to you that if they had homes to go to, they wouldn't be an eyesore to you? It's one thing to be actively involved in changing the way things are, but it's status quo to do little to nothing while making it seem like you're doing a lot. That's why I have little patience for organizations that move numbers around on paper to look good to grant funders but ask them how much housing they've created or how many people they've personally gotten out of homelessness and suddenly you've said a bad word! Don't get me started on frauds that pretend to be service providers but use their funds to pay for personal expenses instead!
Then there are the couch surfers who are still homeless yet people seem to think they're not. Once they've overstayed their welcome because it takes longer to get out of homelessness than their hosts expected, they'll soon be out on the sidewalks and under bridges the way most imagine homeless people to be, that is if they don't commit suicide first. Car dwellers aren't considered to be homeless by some which makes no sense either. Homeless is homeless by any definition if you don't have safe, permanent housing!
Here's another curious thing that happens out here; whether people admit to it or not, there's a jealousy that happens when perceived resources are acquired by some that they can't get access to. Think about it, if you tried and tried to get help to get to a better life and notice that other people seem to be getting the help you asked for before you do, how would that make you feel? Suppose you work more than one job and still can't get out of homelessness? That tired old mantra from clueless people to "just get a job" will infuriate you every time you hear it because you already know that's a myth. It takes a lot more suspension support to keep homeless people from sinking further into poverty and that's the piece too many keep missing until something happens and they suddenly find themselves "out here."
A better way to spend our energy should be in creating more housing opportunities for people instead of playing the "whose got it worse" game.
The Morning Email helps you start your workday with everything you need to know: breaking news, entertainment and a dash of fun. Learn more