We were in Atlanta the other day, and that is the heart of where the homeless “reside” in Georgia. I never knew this about my dad, but I guess he hates homeless people because all he’s experienced are the beggers and stealers, so he, like a lot of people, generalized the homeless population. That generalization hurts me.
If I walk by a homeless person I always feel sadness and sorrow and a wish that I could help them in some way. Maybe I’ll come across a homeless person who actually is a begger and a stealer, but what am I supposed to do? Stop helping alll of the people because one bad apple was in the bunch? That doesn’t work for me.
Per http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/How_Many.html: An average of 26% of homeless people are considered mentally ill, while 13% of homeless individuals were physically disabled (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2008). 19% of single homeless people are victims of domestic violence while 13% are veterans and 2% are HIV positive.
And this volunteer group that I participate in every now and then, Live love (hollaa), is very considerate and open to helping the homeless. I’ve been to Tent City, which is pretty much a community of homeless people living together in tents on the side of a highway or wherever, and to witness that first hand was a shocker to me. And I saw a couple of guys rummaging through a garbage can, and not begging, in search of some scraps. Live Love has this thing called 30wego where they go hand out blankets, hand warmers, and a lot more things to the homeless people in Atlanta if the temperature drops below 30 degrees. And I forget that it’s a privilege to be out in that kind of weather with a heavy jacket and a cap when some people are sleeping on the streets on the freezing concrete with no shoes, no blankets or anything.
A worker at the safe house for homeless people made us do an exercise: Imagine losing everything with no one to turn to and ending up on the streets. Imagine the support system that you think you have end up failing you and you have no where to go but the streets. How do you find food? Where do you sleep tonight? Is it safe? Can you even sleep tonight? Say someone is nice enough to give you some food, but it ends up giving you diarrhea. What do you do then? You’re a female and you just started your menstrual cycle. What do you do to help yourself?
So of course a lot of homeless people may turn into, meaning they were sober and clean prior, alcoholics or “druggies”. Maybe that makes them feel just that much better about their situation. Especially if they’ve been out on the streets for so long. What do you have to lose?
So that’s why it hurts me when people talk bad about the entire homeless population. A lot of them did not choose to be in the predicament that they ended up in. A lot of the people are not bad people. One bad apple does not mean the whole bunch is spoiled.