>It’s frustrating not having my computer because the things I’d like to write about (hiking, the retreat, knitting) have pictures to go along with them.
>Still no pictures…
November 4, 2009 by Blueberries For Me
It’s kind of a lull at work right now. The majority of people we serve receive SSI and SSDI and so get their paychecks at the end of the month. So for the first week or so of every month, we’re pretty quiet. A fair number of people get a hotel for a week and drink. Which is not the picture of homelessness most people prefer. It seems that there are few major stereotypes of homelessness:
1. The mentally ill man with fingerless gloves, knit cap, green trench coat and a shopping cart full of odd-ball items.
2. The down 0n his luck, hardworking American who just needs a hand-up, not a hand-out.
3. The lazy alcoholic who just is looking to panhandle and not work.
Of course, stereotypes have roots somewhere. A good number of people who are homeless are mentally ill and are unable to sustain housing. For some people, the stress of paying bills monthly, abiding to a landlord’s rules, etc. can be too stressful. Homelessness is not simply a result of housing shortages, but of a lack of supportive housing.
We do have people who are simply down on their luck, and we’ll see more and more of them. We have people with college degrees who have held regular jobs and donate regularly to charities. But if your husband dies, and you’re laid off, and then you get in a bad relationship and move across the state and are stranded when he leaves you, it’s not simply a matter of needing a new job.
The majority of people we see struggle with some form of chemical dependency or self-medication. And its a tricky place to be in. Detox costs money, and many hospitals in our area don’t offer detox services. And if you haven’t been able to work because of your alcoholism, then its hard to come up with the money. And its hard to stay dry on the streets even if you start AA.
The only thing all people who are homeless have in common is they don’t have regular housing. Right now, we have a 25 year old filling out job applications, a man whose 4th month of sobriety is today, a bilingual man writing a letter to his granddaughter, someone watching music videos online, a woman taking a nap, an ex-hippie, a woman with a puppy checking her e-mail. I’ve had conversations with people ranging from favorite cookbooks, to current events, to 80s hair bands.
It’s always interesting.