The other day I spoke to you regarding Why Trump is Wrong for Homelessness. Since then I've been down on Aramingo a few times handing out what I could. There never seems to be enough to go around, especially now. Things are seemingly growing worse too:
- One gentleman said he'd been pan handling all day and received nothing. He was so disparaged he was suicidal - saying he's ready to jump in front of a moving vehicle. I was able to cheer him up by offering him a really thick bath robe, a few oranges, some crackers, and a bottle of water. While this seemed to put a smile on his face, I've been down there a few times since and haven't seen him.
- The other night two women in their early 20's stared at me as I gave a gentleman and his friend a few items in the entryway to McDonlds. The guys said they're sick of everyone staring at them like they're freaks instead of helping them and seeing them as their fellow human beings.
With the weather growing colder, things are only growing worse! Trump hasn't even taken offie yet and I'm scared to even think about what's going to happen then. While he says he represents the “forgotten” in the United States, this certainly includes the homeless.
Data shows that ince 2007 the number of chronically homeless has declined by 35%. In fact, in 2016 alone it's declined by 3%. This demonstrates what Mary Cunningham of the Urban Institute calls “a complete paradigm shift in how communities respond to chronic homelessness and people living on the street.”
What's critical here are two things:
- The government's “housing first” idea
- Organizations such as ours, Cherished Angels, forming bonds with each homeless person, showing them that people in their community care. This offers these folks the the stability and affection they need so they don't continue cycling through jails, shelters, rehab centers, and the streets. Take for instance the gentleman I met who is now homeless because he got out of jail clean and sober, but with nowhere to go. How long do you think he'll remain this way if nobody shows him they care?
So, don't do what I saw one lady do the other night... While she may have thought she was helping by giving the homeless lady a fist full of change, it also came with her lecture of how it's cold and it's time she gets a house. Instead, give them that fist of change with a smile or an encouraging word. Stand up and show you care. Instead of staring, smile, they're only human too.