Wednesday, February 4, 2015
I feel guilty. Someone actually paid me for one of my blog posts. That's like rewarding a fish for swimming. Why? I write about what I feel, my experiences. The good, the bad and the ugly - as they say. It's not pretty, and I don't care to sugarcoat it. It is what it is...
My fellow advocates and I wring our hands in dismay, as the homeless count increases, and we don't see that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. We wonder what's to be done to stem the tide, and accommodate the many men, women, children, disabled, elderly and handicapped who have their own, unique needs, wants and desires. It all seems so overwhelming.
I've actually been wanting to write about this for awhile. This thing called housing; It's messy. It's messy, because it's connected to people, and sometimes people are messy. They have messy lives, and messy situations, and messy thought patterns, and messy pasts, and messy families, and messy ways of dealing with problems. Some are in a constant state of panic, some are in denial, some cope - and therefore don't even think they need help. Some self-medicate. And, can you blame them? Really??
Prime example: This is a scenario my worker and I actually had:
Her: "Ok... well, we're going to need for you to look for housing..."
Me: "I don't have a car."
Her: "Well, can't you get a friend to take you?"
Me: "No, they work."
Her: "Well, you can take the bus, right?"
Me: "Yes, but I don't have much money."
Her: "Oh, well - I can give you some tokens."
Me: (Getting needlessly excited) "Great."
Her: "And, you should call the places before you visit them, to make an appointment, first."
Me: "I only have a pre-paid phone, with limited minutes."
Her: "Oh, well, can't you use the hotel phone?"
Me: "No, you had them block all outgoing calls, remember?"
Her: "Oh, yeah..."
She leaves, and comes back with ten tokens. What the hell am I supposed to do with TEN TOKENS??!! That barely gets me back to the hotel !
Not to sound ungrateful, but there's a serious disconnect between the types of services being offered to homeless people, and the services they really need. There's also too much reliance on charity and churches to fill the gaps government agencies either can't or won't fill. There's too much corruption, fraud, waste and abuse by government officials regarding the funding they get from HUD. They use those funds for their own benefit, at their own discretion, and with lax oversight, if any at all; And, until that changes, we can expect the homeless counts to go up, and up, and up, and up. Pretty soon, homelessness is just going to be a fact of life. And, when that happens, we are well and truly fucked. We need to move AWAY from housing inequality and homelessness as a cottage industry, and instead - move toward equality and the right to housing for ALL, regardless of race, religion, class, status and income.