Monday, June 13, 2011

The Cost of Being Homeless: Part 1 - Free Speech

Over the weekend I had put together a 3 page, single-spaced diatribe on what to expect when becoming homeless in Raleigh. It occurred to me, though, that people don't want to read how bad things are for homeless people. They might want to hear about overcoming homelessness, as this link suggests. Then after further reflection, the costs of being homeless finally came to mind. Not the monetary kind of costs, but other costs. This is the first of a new series of articles, short articles, I promise, that will cover those costs.
Let's start with the most important cost of all. LOSS OF FREE SPEECH.
When you become homeless and complain about it, people get turned off. It happens. 'Get a job' and things like that. I can't complain about how bad things are because people will think of me as a whiny, ungrateful bastard. 'You're getting everything for free and you have the nerve to complain about it?'
The problem with that, is things are so bad that complaints need to be registered and heard. If people tune me out because I complain about the 'free' food and 'free' shelter, then things will never improve. And they need to improve, or things will never get any better. Trust me, they need to get better, or the whole homeless situation will never go away.
And it's not just outside the shelter where free speech is lost. I can't complain to a person who's in a bunk next to me, because he refuses to take a shower and is stinking the entire dorm. He just tells me to 'F*ck off.'
Complaining to staff frequently falls on deaf ears, because they are understaffed and overworked, and since they have heard it all before, they think they can ignore you and get away with it. And they do.
Because no one likes to hear how bad a homeless person has it. Because everything is free.
Anyone else see a problem here? Or am I just talking to myself?