Originally Posted by marie-p
Just a side note, begging does not necessarily mean homeless. There are many homeless people who refuse to beg, and there are some people who beg and are not technically homeless (although I'm sure the large majority of them are very poor... just not homeless)
Also keep in mind that many homeless people do not want to resort to shelters and charities... sometimes because they want to maintain some independence or because these charities are can be very regimented or judgemental. I'm not saying these people are right or wrong... but keep in mind that when you spend years on the street, every bit of "independence" can be seen as a good thing, even if it takes the form of "free lance" begging rather than taking charity from an organization.
There is a tendency for many people to divide poor people into "deserving" and "undeserving"... with the ones who are deserving being children, sometimes women and the occasional man who seems willing to submit to the rules of the charity. Whether you give to people on the street or to charities, keep that in mind and try your best not to be judgemental about who deserves your money. Sure, everyone would want to help a woman with children who ends up on the street... but the problem is, that often means that single middle age men who end up on the street have little hope of getting much help (aside from the necessities for survival).
thanks for that post. i have been homeless twice- the first time was because i was ill (i am disabled- i have a mental illness) this was many decades ago, and there were no shelters, no soup kitchen, etc. i lived ON the street.in winter- January. i got washed up the best i could in train stop bathrooms. i did not beg, it never even occured to me. finally a police officer noticed me and realized that i was not quite "all there" and helped me get into the state hospital (not a whole lot better than the streets, but it was warm and we got food)
BTW although i know it is convenient to say "homeless person" actually these are ppl who, for whatever reason, have found themselves without a home.
they are ppl first. there are many many full time, minimum wage, hard working ppl -doing many of the jobs that ppl tend to look down on as "beneath them" -who can barely make ends meet, and are just a pay check away from being on the streets, or living in their car, if they are lucky enough to have one.
i was also homeless after leaving an abusive husband- and i had an 18 mos old baby- the Salvation army paid for us to stay in a hotel room for one week (in a hotel were almost all the other residents were alcoholic men- i was terrified)
there were cockroaches and it was filthy- but it was not the streets. i had no food for myself but they gave me some old baby formula with rusted lids,
i had no bathroom, and had to go to the front desk to ask someone to warm the formula up for my baby.
there was no one who would help because i was still officially married, and had to get a legal separation, had no car and could not get to the court house to fill out the paperwork in time, so i was kicked out and ended up having to go back to an abusive man.
there are many many reasons that a person may lose their home. granted the vast majority of them these days are drug addicts and alcoholics and many many are also mentally ill but they closed down the state hospitals with out an adequate alternative for ppl who are not able to care for themselves.
a large number of ppl in jail are mentally ill- there is just no where else to put them. they do something relatively minor, steal a pack of cigarettes or if htey are paranoid, assault someone thinking that the person is going to harm them and they end up in jail.
over 3/4 of all ppl on disability in the US have a mental illness as a disability.
many see us as "undeserving" because they do not understand how our illnesses affect our ability to be out in the working world (of course their are many ppl who are mentally ill who are able to work)
i am still on the verge of homelessness all the time. my income is very low.
and if i were to lose my apt, where would i go? i dont drive so i have never had a car LOL so i couldn't live in my car
i will NOT go to the shelter, as our shelter is what they call a "wet" shelter, they allow intoxicated and high (on drugs) ppl into the shelter.
and besides, you are thrown out in the streets from morning til just before dinner, regardless of the weather. where do you go? many ppl in the shelter are required to go to job training or a job and save up to move out of the shelter.
these "homeless ppl" roam the street all day, looking for a warm place to go, or a park bench where the cop wont arrest you for loitering. many libraries will not allow you in.
if you are disabled and have not applied for disability, they help you do that.
when you are approved (assuming you are) you get a retroactive check to the day you applied, and the shelter takes $75 for each week that you were there-
thats right- it is NOT free to live at the shelter.
if you have disability you have to pay your way ($75 per week)
you could not find a room in a rooming house that cheap, so what else can you do?
i think a lot of ppl have a lot of misconceptions about ppl who have found themselves homeless.
as far as giving beggars money- there are far too many scam artists and most of the beggars in this area are very aggressive, even hostile
if i am asked for money i tell them the truth- i do not carry cash (and i wont)
i donate anything that i have that i can't use to various charities- clothes, etc. (and only the best stuff, the rest i use as rags- you should see some of the junk ppl donate to those thrift stores!!)
except for booze, cigarrettes and drugs, there is very little that is necessary for life (in this area) that is not now available somewhere.
sure some of the choices suck, but me giving a buck or two to a begger is not going to help much to get them a roof over their head.
assuming of course, that that is what they need.
free food is plentiful, so are clothes, blankets, coats, etc. there are many organizations that provide furniture and other things you would need to set up housekeeping- totally for free.
i lived with no bed, no kitchen table, no sofa and my 2 yr old daughter slept on a crib matteress on the floor.
back then (in my early 20s) i never would have thought to ask any one for the things i needed.
when i had gotten to know my neighbors and they saw how i lived, they helped me out, went to the places where you get free stuff and gave me curtains to replace the newspapers on my windows all kinds of things .i was amazed that relative strangers would do so much for me.
i still didnt have a lot of the things that others seem to take for granted (and i still dont- i dont have a sofa or any stuffed chairs in my living room-i put my mattress on the floor in there)
and i dont mind.
yes i have a computer, that my nephew made for me from parts. he didn't have the parts for a sofa LOL
i started up a food pantry at a church, get it all organized and set up and got the donations of food and wrote up the application and all that stuff
i wanted the food pantry to be an emergency food bank - where you make a 'withdrawal' when you really need it, but when you are able to, you give back what you can
now many ppl who go to that food pantry (i left it for someone else to run because i didn't like their philosophy) anyway those ppl come and think that some rich folks are donating this food. you hear them talking about all the other agencies they have been to- to get the "little stuff" for their kids for the holidays, while they are buying them DVD players and computers and expensive things.
makes me sick
esp when i know that many of hte ppl who donate that food had to go without themselves to do it, believing that the ppl coming to the food pantry are worse off than they are.
i tried to tell them but they wouldnt listen
you can almost tell by looking who really needs the help and who is just working the system to get all that they can.
**almost**- so i guess that is why they dont' turn anyone away.
but still ppl should be expected to give back. there will surely come a time when you have an extra can of soup or you found out that your kids wont eat something you bought two of because they were cheaper that way- give that to a food pantry or a soup kitchen
ok getting off my soap box now
PS in case you are wondering i was finally able to leave my abusive husband in while he was at work- someone told me about a battered womens shelter.
i didnt think i was battered "enough" to qualify because he had never broken any bones....oh i was so young and so naive