ASK MAx: HOMELESSNESS

 

HOMELESS WOMANLET’S TALK ABOUT….THE HOMELESS!! It is hard on 15 degree nights getting comfortable in my warm bed, knowing that there are people sleeping under bridges, on park benches, or on sidewalk grates providing heat from below.

National Homeless.com: “HUD found 610,042 individuals to be homeless on a single night in January 2013…85% are individuals while 15% of homeless persons are in family households.”

Remember the first homeless person you ever met? What was that like for you?HOBO

My first memory of ever meeting someone that was homeless was while growing up in the suburbs of Bethlehem, PA. A “hobo” came through our neighborhood around the time the fruit was down off the trees and the smells of autumn were beginning. I would invite him to sit at our picnic table, run in the house to prepare a peanut butter sandwich, grab a glass of milk for him, and sit across from him to listen about his travels—he usually went from “upper State New York down to The Keys—at the tip of Florida…someday I may go west. I hear the Pacific Ocean is a lot different than the Atlantic.” My mother stood by the kitchen window watching—she never joined us. I was graced with these visits for three years before he stopped coming.

Ditto: “Five states, California (22%), New York (13%), Florida (8%), Texas (5%), and Massachusetts (3%), accounted for more than half of the homeless population in the United States in 2013.”

What are your thoughts on the homeless people occupying our parks, our streets, our bridges?

HOMELESS WOMAN 2When I was a qualitative researcher, I took two homeless assignments: as a bag lady in the mission district of San Francisco, and, under a Portland, OR, bridge with homeless children. On the SF assignment I still recall the cold that crept through every part of my being during the late, late night/early morning, and, a sense of loneliness and abandonment from people sleeping in their warm beds. The Portland assignment, where a family tribe of children 9 to 16 invited me to stay with them, just rocked my entire world. How does a 9 year old come to feel safer under a bridge than at their home?!

Ditto: “33% of all homeless people were youths under the age of 24”.

These days I limit my interactions by donating services when given an opportunity, and, once in a while, randomly taking time to sit, listen and provide resources when I can. This year I, along with my neighbors and friends, became part of the solution by helping one long term homeless man get a new start. Imagine if each neighborhood in town got together to “sponsor” a homeless individual or family.

Ditto: “48% of homeless individuals (without families) were found to be living without shelter.”

What I learned about being homeless is there are individuals that choose to be “hobo’s”/wanderers; there are people with mental illnesses that choose the streets rather than being locked up; and, there are those that unexpectedly find themselves homeless because of capitalistic circumstances. What they all have in common is that they are human beings—just like me and you.

HOMELESS SIGN

 

Glad we talked about this. Of course, it is just my opinion.

OPINION




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Springfield Times

Ask MAx” is published weekly in the Springfield Times, Springfield,OR. You can subscribe to the Springfield Times at http://www.springfieldtimes.net/.

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