Thursday, September 06, 2012

When the "With-Homes" judge the "Homeless"

As many of you know, I studied Political Science for four years in college at three different universities across the country. After all of those classes of research and readings and fact-learning, it bothers me SO MUCH when I see people, particularly friends, repeating information verbatim that has never and will never be based in fact.

Today's pet peeve is about homelessness. I'm not going to write a lengthy post about this, but I will include links to more information and to longer articles like this one. It is incredibly informative and includes further reading recommendations.

  1. Homeless people do not steal your tax dollars (or your state tax dollars). Most homeless people do not even get government money, because things like Social Security and Disability that they've spent their lives paying into require lengthy paperwork, phones and permanent addresses. If anything they get food stamps, which is just enough to live by. Remember there are no refrigerators or stoves or microwaves to cook this food in at leisure either. 
  2. Homeless people are not lazy. They, like many Americans now, were living paycheck to paycheck, lost a business, are veterans, got foreclosed on, had sudden healthcare bills.... And they couldn't dig their way out. A good percentage of homeless are working minimum wage jobs that can't pay the bills.
  3. When you say "Get a job!" to a homeless person, try to think of the last time you saw someone homeless going into a job interview and getting hired. Or someone who didn't have their own shower or change of clothes working anywhere you've been. I have a college degree and references and I haven't been able to find a job for 6 months. 
  4. Ending the state of being homeless is more difficult than even getting a job (if they somehow find one). When you get a paycheck of $150 at the end of the week, there are no apartments with deposits and rent that low, there are no cars that cheap. Even getting a bank account requires previous addresses, a phone number, and two forms of ID. 

The next time this topic comes up, I wish everyone would think about personal encounters with homeless people when they actually had a conversation with them. And I hate to say it, but most people who use this argument probably haven't had many one-on-one interactions with someone they're so vehemently arguing against. 

One of my very good friends was once homeless for a few years, and if it weren't for family members and friends stepping up to pull him out of that, giving him clothes, food and a free place to stay, he would still be there, sleeping in parks. And that was one of the most profound lessons I have learned in my life. 

In Thomas S. Monson's General Conference talk in 2007, he said "I extol you who, with loving care and compassionate concern, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and house the homelessHe who notes the sparrow’s fall will not be unmindful of such service. The desire to lift, the willingness to help, and the graciousness to give come from heart filled with love. Serve willingly." 

Interesting articles: 
  • On Panhandling and Homelessness
  • United Way Homelessness Commission:

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