Homeless People

Does giving money to a homeless person help? Is it not their choices and their habits that got them there? Perhaps some are victims. Generalizing here is dangerous because many situations are unique and there could very well be victims. However, when someone approaches and asks for money, I have to generalize. I’ve been asked for money many times. I’ve given it only to see them asking for money again.

Often, I see the same people everyday. It looks like a choice they make to continue this path. I don’t like the path they’ve chosen. I want them to take another path. I guess my expectation for them is the more normal, healthy path. I don’t want to feed the habit or create a situation where I enable them to continue to be on the unclean, unproductive, and unhealthy path.

I know of a few serious alcoholics who have lost their jobs and subsequently their homes. One became homeless. The other is about to become homeless. There’s an argument here about whether they were predisposed to this condition either genetically or environmentally, but I still think that there is a capability to chose the response.

My end thought is that it is a choice that’s made. I think this choice is a product of an individual’s environment. Perhaps it’s a choice made in despair that’s compounded by a mental disorder? From that perspective, it may not be a choice they have the strength to make. If you really can’t make the choice, then I’m not sure what to think. My humanist side says get them off the street and in a mental institution…I guess. This sounds terrible. What other options are there in this case?

I read an article in the NewYorker by Malcom Gladwell where he presented a financial picture of how a few homeless people can drive up serious medical debts and how it would be more cost effective to provide an apartment and in home care for them than to let them be on the street driving up government costs. My take on this is that it’s all in the environment that people choose.

If you choose a situation where you feel you must drink to have the good times, either because the environment is truly unfortunate or because your mental outlook is truly unfortunate, then it seems that the resulting circumstances can’t be positive. If you choose to change your situation to one that’s empowering or change your outlook to one that’s empowering, then I expect your results will be empowering.

I’m sure there are those who are homeless who have never seen abundance. They might not know it exists. Again, I think this is an environment problem.

To fix homelessness, I think we need to focus on the environment an individual is in. Any other thoughts? What have I grossly missed? Experts needed…Please!

3 thoughts on “Homeless People

  1. womble Reply

    I came to your blog from your post on Jamie’s Big Voice. Homelessness may be a choice made as a result of ‘choosing’ other ways of life, eg. drinking, drugs. However, it may be that family breakup, job loss kicks the whole thing off and then the person sinks into these other habits as a way of dealing with it all. In fact, street homeless are targets for drug pushers.

    When it becomes difficult for homeless people to make a choice to change their lives is the lack of support in place. In the UK, there really is a shortage of affordable housing. There is a shortage of centres to help people who want to change their lives. Jamie’s story is incredible, he managed to change and still continues to have a pretty hard life. But even with his single-mindedness, it was helped in the first place by a charity, Crisis. I don’t know if you have read much of his blog, but if you do, I think it will explain further about ‘choices’ and what Jamie means by having more help from government and society. He definitely does not mean that the individual should pass over all responsibility to other people to sort them out.

    I can’t comment on the situation in the USA, but here in the UK, there are pieces of legislation which allow people to fall through the gaps and end up homeless. Like the lack of support for young people (often forced out of the family home when a step-parent moves in). Like the single man who has to leave the family home after marriage breakdown (he is the lowest on the list for Council Housing) and can’t afford to pay market rates for a second place to live for himself. Like the person who loses their job and then their place. Then they can’t get a job because they don’t have an address and many employers won’t take you on if you have a hostel for an address.

    There is much that society can and should do. One day it could be me or you.

  2. Abraham Reply

    Thank you for posting. I think I’m learning. I missed a big piece. I have generalized right over all the life changing things that can just happen to someone. It’s clear that your compassion comes from knowing the details and circumstances. I have to say that I don’t know the circumstances and will read more on Jamie’s blog.

    Another thought comes to mind though. I keep having this thought that people make choices based on their habitual environment. From this, I think people can just change their environment to change their choices. I need to think more on this. Clearly, it’s much easier to say and write than it is to do. I can’t just jump into being a major realestate developer from being a dollar general store clerk. I can’t jump into the highest order of spritual thinking from being a ravaged material goods consumer. There are many transitions that include a dedicated effort to learning about the new environment I would want to be in.

  3. Anonymous Reply

    I’ve heard some people say “I choose to be homeless” in a way that is true. I could choose to move in with a guy and be at his mercy, do all kinds of vular sexual things to satisfy his appetite, to put a roof over my head, I choose not to do so. Doubt that when anyone was born they said, “hey when I grow up I want to be an alcoholic”. Children that have run away from abusive parents, often stay on the streets forever. There are so many causes. If you see the technorati tags the Wandering Scribe, a woman posted a comment…something about not being able to trust anyone anymore, opening themselves up to one more hurt would be unbearable.

    I’m homeless due to bad luck and bad choices. Affordable housing might have made a difference. Affordable health care as well. I won’t give money to homeless, unless you don’t care how it is spent. Some panhandlers actually have homes and incomes. All too sad for the ones that could really use the spare change and don’t use it to make the drug dealer richer.
    Good homeless people won’t defecate on the street corner. If they have diarhea and can not make it to a bathroom, they would clean it up. Most of the homeless don’t like the destructive, unclean ones and often spend time cleaning up after them. Street Memories is also another Technorati blog (no longer homeless) that descirbes it from a woman’s perspective.

    Expert opinion? Castrate rapists, ban alcohol (prohibition didn’t work, tho’), rent control, give long stiff jail sentences for man that abuse women and children. Truthfully, dunno. But that stuff might help. Probably not.

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