When you are homeless nothing else matters.
When you don’t have solid footing, no matter your level of intelligence or education, everything is seen through the prism of: I don’t matter because I have no control or input regarding my most basic of necessities.
I have been there: living in hotels with lunatic boyfriends, sleeping on the floor of a friend’s home, trying to determine the lesser of two evils living with my family back in the Midwest or with friends knowing that there was no guarantee that things would turn around.
While there are folks that undoubtedly abuse the system and figure out all types of ways to keep themselves in the space of: Gimmee, can I have, let me borrow, there are those who legitimately want to do better and improve their lives.
Everyone at some point needs some type of assistance.
At different times in our lives, we all need someone who encourages us through a kind word, some insightful problem solving or simply a new approach to a hauntingly familiar problem seen through a fresh set of eyes.
To fix the problem of homelessness, we can start by reappropriating funds.
We can offer financial and housing assistance.
We can offer support while people increase their critical thinking skills which can lead to an increase in self esteem.
We can become our brother’s keeper.
We can take on the suffering of others as our own and work to alleviate it.
Alleviate not belittle or offer patronizing statements couched in :Let me show you how to live because you are too stupid to figure it out.
If I jump in and offer suggestions without consulting and attempting to understand what is needed by the people in the most need and the most affected, I also run the risk of augmenting and adding to the problem.
This helps no one.
I have often fantasized about a community wherein people pool resources.
A community wherein diverse groups of folk work together and joyfully move everyone’s life forward.
What would this look like?
For one thing, it would involve everyone taking a course in loving well and then a class in critical thinking.
To make this possible one day a week would be devoted to teaching and exploring the concept of love.
The love courses could be taught one day a week and could cover things such as how to treat folks we perceive as different?
We could produce images that involve people clearly learning and being in communion with one another.
We all learn how to behave and dream based on the steady images we allow ourselves to be fed.
We teach intolerance, nonthinking and domination via mass media.
Why not use the same tools to teach love and critical thought?
How do we interact with people we ordinarily have no contact with or seldom find reasons to engage in meaningful conversations?
If the decision is to eradicate homelessness and make everyone self sufficient, we have to examine the reasons why this problem exists.
When I lived in Japan in the mid 90’s, homelessness was nonexistent.
Part of my job while living there was teaching people skills they needed to become financially secure and socially productive and independent. It was assumed that everyone had something to offer and would offer it if given the correct way to do this, i.e. training and time to incorporate a new skill set.
This would work here in the States provided that housing and food prices be made lower via community gardens and groups of individuals owning something (their place of residence in joint tenancy).
Unlike a coop board which is stupid and pointless (If I hear about one more moron being worked up because a wire is showing or someone made a visible improvement which required a discussion I will lose my mind), I would rather see a group of folk own a building outright and then deciding how they want it to look and who would be in charge of making improvements and or enhancing the overall look of the building.
People who have lived in their cars have a different understanding of what is important and what needs to be done to accomplish the most with the least.
Many times, I have attacked a problem with the help and insight of someone who had either already dealt with whatever was causing me the blues or was unaffected by the same issue and therefore provided me with some fresh insight and opinions.
This allowed me to fix the problem and then move on to the next one.
If my perception that a social problem is someone else’s to solve, I have abdicated responsibility for lending a hand to improve the lives of others.