A friend of mine from New York City sent me this photo. What was startling to both of us was the bale of hay in the man’s cart. Actually, the mixture of goods in this homeless man’s cart is mind-boggling. A few hours later, the cart had moved.
Don’t know why some of its contents were on the ground, but people just carry on about their business. Another normal day. The cart belongs to a man that my friend has seen locally for years. Last night he saw him sleeping on a mattress next to his cart. My friend bought him a sandwich at the deli and went in. This is life in America.
People experiencing homelessness in America affects many persons. But you knew that, didn’t you? You either turn a blind eye to it or you may donate a few dollars here or there, drop a few coins into someone’s cup, turn your car window up when you see a pan-handler at a corner asking for money or wonder just if that person really is homeless. Or how did that person become homeless. You may think that homeless people are only the ones that sleep on park benches with cartons as blankets. Not having a roof over your head affects more people than you think in more ways than you can ever imagine in America.
I’ve known people that have slept in their cars (they were the lucky ones) because they didn’t have homes. People with college educations and excellent jobs or excellent job skills. Women who left abusive relationships because their lives depended on that decision. They had nowhere else to go and local shelters were full.
People who are on assistance who have slum landlords and are forced to leave their apartments because the city has condemned their apartments(the landlord’s fault) but there is nowhere to place them immediately. Again, shelters are full.
Veterans who are on disability and cannot find a place anymore in our society and have fallen through the cracks. They’ve been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but don’t have the resources to get the help they so desperately need.
I’m not going to talk about substance abuse and going down the rabbit hole as a reason for homelessness. That’s an easy mark for people to say that’s the person’s own fault. Well, no, it’s not. Something caused that substance abuse and that’s all I’ll say. Dark holes inside are created by a much larger abyss outside.
So there’s a problem in America that needs to be addressed. It needs to be respected. How can you help?
-Don’t look away.
-Teach your children to help.
-Donate your clean, good used goods.
-If you are an employer, find a way to offer jobs through programs.
-Buy local food coupons that can be redeemed and give them out instead of money.
-When you see a panhandler do this: http://www.nationalhomeless.org/want_to_help/panhandle.html
The National Coalition For The Homeless has a factsheet with information on ways you can get help and give help here: http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/#want
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