Essay People Homeless

I’ll try to explain, though I don’t expect you or anyone else to truly understand.But it’s worth a try, if only it might lead to a little more understanding, a little more compassion, on the part of those who have for those who have not.

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Some people are homeless only for a short time, perhaps after a divorce, the loss of a job, a financial disaster, or the death of a loved one.

Yet they continue to participate in society as best they can. Most mornings I’m up well before dawn, awakened by one noisy type of vehicle or another.

It’s difficult to explain this to someone who has never had to live outdoors in the midst of several thousand people roaring around them at all hours.

All you have in the world is what you can carry—in my case, a medium-sized tote bag that has become quite heavy over the years. But in all of its manifestations, it has held the little things that I’ve needed to survive. How can a person survive on the streets of an American city for more than a decade?

It’s a wonder that I’ve managed to survive all these years, what with the alcohol and the prescription medication overdoses, the genuine suicide attempts and the others that were cries for help. When I saw the sheer numbers of men and women going through these rehab centers just as I was, without a clue as to what was really happening to them, I realized how hopelessly broken this “world of recovery” really is. When you’re homeless and you’re spending your days in the local park, sleeping off the previous night’s alcoholic binge, or just trying to get some rest, inevitably someone from a local social service organization will come by and attempt to interest you in its services.

The truth is, these centers really only track or monitor the homeless; they offer few services designed to change a person’s life.Then there are people like me—the long-term homeless, or what social scientists call the chronically homeless, as if we had contracted some sort of disease that is as difficult to treat as it is for many people simply to countenance. You are tied to whatever community resources you are able to access. I’m wasting my life away like a fool, some would say, but it’s all I know how to do anymore. An amazing number of them poke about in the predawn city—delivery trucks, trash trucks, people getting up and about to do who knows what.Despite what you might think, once you have joined the chronically homeless, a great deal of freedom awaits. You can pick up and go wherever you can afford to go, anytime you wish. You are chained to erratic, often incompetently run social service programs. Noise is just one of the things you have to get used to when you’re living the outdoor life in an urban setting, and there’s no escaping cities, which are a lifeline for homeless people, whose basic survival would be too difficult without even the meager resources they provide.You can dream all day long, if that is what you want to do. You are looked upon as a pariah by most of the people around you, and are treated even worse, as though you are subhuman, by many charity organizations—whether they be faith-based or nonprofit. I have spent all of my homeless years in a small city on the outskirts of Los Angeles. That makes outdoor living more pleasant than in, say, freezing windy Chicago.It’s not as noisy as New York, the city that never sleeps. But even in this small city, I’m awakened every morning by the noise and, for a while, lie still and reflect on my situation.This is especially true if you are living outdoors, eating what you can and when you can, putting all of your energy into survival, and trying to maintain at least some degree of good hygiene.Believe me, personal hygiene—which so many people take for granted—is not a simple thing for a homeless person.Or the police, looking to move you out of your spot.You never know what to expect, and it makes sleep difficult. Alcohol and drugs do play a big part in street life.Many could not read or write well enough to seek gainful employment, certainly not without some kind of remedial learning program.Many had broken or missing teeth, which meant that their chance of making a favorable first impression on a potential employer was virtually nil. Who was going to provide even the most minimal education they needed so badly?

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