The homeless. At first sight are seen as dirty; unkempt; those who beg for change and/or food; and according to some just simply a nuisance.
Some of those labels mentioned are exactly what is seen on the surface, but do we care enough to fathom that sometimes homelessness is derived from deeper issues than what we initially observe? Do we care to understand there are stories behind some of the faces we encounter, and the tags that are placed on some do not include them all?
On the flip side:
Comments about the homeless can seem insensitive, however there are those who have reached out to help, but are grossly taken advantage of.
I will just offer a few scenarios to think about:
- A woman who works through fatigue and many pains as long as she can. She finally decides to see a doctor. After many tests she is diagnosed with a rare disease that eventually leaves her unable to work. She files for disability and is denied. Of course she appeals. Because of her rare condition she spends a lot of time trying to prove how ill she is. She waits while everything she has saved dwindles down to nothing. It becomes more difficult to pay her bills and due to her sickness she has accumulated a host of medical expenses. When she finally receives her disability it is hardly enough to live on.
- A man who is working hard to get off the streets. He has a job and just simply wants a safe place to camp, because a lot of shelters are overcrowded and filthy. He finds a space and soon other campers set up nearby. They drink excessively and do drugs so he has to find another place to pitch his tent. He wants out of this situation as soon as possible. What does it say when someone who lives in the midst of it all says ‘Some people don’t want to change, and I don’t want to be around that’? I guess it puts things into a different perspective when you hear something so raw from someone who is actually there day in and day out….living it. Yeah….out of that group of homeless people there is a guy who feels just like the passersby and does not appreciate being placed in the same category.
- A man working hard and buying a home is suddenly laid off from his job. He searches consistently, but is unable to find another that paid him as well. He was laid off during a time when many other companies were laying off which placed him back into the job market at a terrible time. He had too much experience for jobs that only wanted to pay someone younger entry-level pay. He invested, but the markets crashed, and he depleted his savings trying to stay afloat. He eventually accepted what work he could get but it was barely enough to survive.
To be fair I will offer some scenarios from the opposite side of the issue:
- You have a man who offers a space for a stranger in need. The stranger decides he will allow others into this space as well which brings a lot of foot traffic to this man’s property. There is a great deal of noise and disruptions that spill out into the neighborhood. Because this was not the deal, and things get out of hand the stranger is asked to leave and refuses. After going through the legal process of having him removed the man is left with loads of garbage to clean up and having to do some major maintenance on his home.
- A woman opens her home to a childhood friend who is down on her luck. The friend lays around all day and does nothing but complain about what she does not have, however does nothing to better her situation. The woman gives her money on numerous occasions but it is never enough. The friend turns into a victim when approached about finding a job; provides excuses when given recommendations on places to apply; and guilt trips when the woman informs her she cannot go on like this forever.
Consider people who reach out and provide help and have someone who crosses major boundaries in taking advantage of it. They will probably never reach out again because of their experience with this one person they decided to give a chance.
Someone who does everything right but due to what some would call a flawed system they are left with little to nothing.
If someone is looking for a warm place to safely sleep all night, wake up with no place to shower, and no food….it could be difficult to remain in a state of mind to be motivated to do anything.
Understable…. it is impossible to decipher who is who and that may be the reason many people choose not to get involved.
However, getting involved is not a requirement in changing how we can look at some of these situations differently.
We never know how someone ended up in the position they are in, and we never know who offered help and got burned.
I will set aside those who take advantage and do not actually need or appreciate help, and close with a few generalized statements I have heard about those living on the street:
It’s their own fault…
They should have planned better…
They can get a job…
but is it always that simple?