Thursday, August 22, 2013

Pushed By the Wayside Again

Homelessness is a serious problem. I've been homeless now since 2010, off and on. I blame no one but myself for being homeless. I just need help getting out of the rut that I'm in.

And therein lies the problem. People who are not homeless might sympathize with me, but somehow that problem keeps getting pushed aside - literally in the case of Columbia South Carolina, where it is now illegal to be homeless and be downtown at all.

So people would rather ignore the problem of homelessness, or think it's someone else's problem rather than one they could act on. Sure, church groups feed the homeless, but do they offer permanent housing to them? And the simple fact is, if you take all the money spent on 'helping' homeless, like in shelters and soup kitchens and clothing drives and everything else being done for homeless people and concentrate it on housing, training and health care, including mental health, you'd solve the problem in no time flat.

But no, the solutions offered are all stop-gap methods of placating the homeless, not curing their real problems.

If you concentrated on making the homeless self-sufficient, there would be no problems that didn't involve mental illness, which is another whole animal.

How about giving homeless hiring advantages/preferences to city, state and county jobs? Assuming they have the basic qualifications, it would be solving two problems at once.

Frankly, I'm tired of playing the game. I'm supposed to go one place to get food stamps, another to get lunch for free. I'm supposed to be mobile enough to look for work, but the number of bus passes available is extremely limited and walking is so severely limiting in how far away I can go, and bad for the health of a diabetic.

And I know that there are a lot of important things going on right now. I read the news. I know there's a lot on people's minds. But please don't push aside this problem, because it will come right back. As long as nothing is done about it, it's like a slinky going down the stairs. It may seem like it's going away, but until a permanent solution that does not involve shooing us out of town is found, we'll come right back. We are a NATIONAL problem, not local. There should be a NATIONAL solution, not local, and limiting stays in shelters is not the solution. Finding permanent homes is the solution. Please get to work on that, and leave the other politics for another time.

Even in my case, with a Section 8 voucher in hand, I am having difficulties finding an affordable apartment that has openings. Think how bad it is for those that do not have a voucher. Please concentrate. This is important. It will only get worse. And then it will cost more money.

Addendum: I'm not sure I got my point across yesterday. So here goes again. Homelessness is an important issue, and I think some people agree with that, but something seems to always be more important than someone else being homeless, unless that someone is you. I understand that things happen in life that take precedence and I'm not saying we're more important that life-threatening emergencies, but as Frank Lawrence, the director at the shelter says, (paraphrasing) we, the homeless, have to treat the shelter as an emergency, and not as a permanent solution. That said, I'm not altogether sure the shelter is abiding by that, because they simply don't help enough. And if the shelter staff don't help enough, how can anyone expect the rest of the country to treat it as the emergency that it is. I'm panicking because I'm running out of time myself. And I have a means of getting out. But no one else sees that. That is the real problem. No one sees it as an emergency and most people really hope it will go away on its own. That kind of thinking really needs to stop.