Posted: May 25, 2007 in Bureauacracy, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness, Misconceptions, Money

I’m always amazed that there are people who think that the 1st Amendment gives them the right to give me a piece of their minds, but don’t feel that – in turn – it gives me the right to speak mine.

For example –

Yesterday morning I posted "Grilled Cheese Sandwich" which among other things I talked about the Homeless Services Coordination Committee. Later, yesterday afternoon, when I checked my e-mail I had received a number of "messages" about the posting. Several in particular caught my attention, and so I thought I’d use today’s post to respond and clear out the cobwebs, as it were.  

I’m going to do a bit of cutting and pasting from a few of those e-mails so that I can quote exactly what was said to me. The italics and ellipses (you know those three little dot things … ) are my own insertions for "dramatic" purposes. The words, grammar and typos belong to the respective e-mailers.

The first one said that every time I mention any type of homeless support services that I sound mean and angry and that:

"…you ain’t got no to blame for be homeless than yourselfs…"

Since they mentions that I seem to be angry "every time" I write about the homeless support services in my community, I’m assuming that they’ve read more than one of my postings.

Am I angry WITH the homeless support services in my community? Absolutely yes. But I’m not angry AT them. More accurately, I should say that I’m disheartened with the way the homeless are treated. And I know that it all comes down to funding. Lack of funding makes it difficult for these organizations to find people with personalities and skills beneficial to the overall operation of these facilities.

While I’m sure that most who begin working for these agencies start out with a desire to make a difference, I imagine that having to deal with homeless people day in and day out finally takes its toll on even the most sincere person.

There are exceptions of course. There is one woman who is currently working for the night shelter who seems to have weathered it all exceedingly well. She is also one of only a handful of employees for the shelter that I have an immense amount of respect for. Unfortunately, the people who are in authority above her are the policy makers and her hands are tired as far as how much she can or is allowed to do.

Another e-mail also pointed out that I seem to "be down" on the agencies that provide services to the homeless. In part they said that I ought to…

"…stop bitching. You people should be happy that you guys have somewhere to eat and sleep every day…"

I’m going to assume this person if from the Mid-West, especially considering the phrase "you guys."

For some reason, most e-mails of this sort that I receive tend to think that I believe night shelters and day centers should be done away with.

Do I think the shelter and day center should be closed down and boarded up?

Absolutely not! They provide a valuable and much needed service to the homeless in this community. They give the homeless services that they might not get otherwise. And that is a BIG plus in my books. So what is my gripe? Again, it all comes down to funding. These agencies simply DO NOT receive adequate funding (from any source) to effectively impact homelessness.

I don’t know what homeless services are like in: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles or anywhere else for that matter. I do know what they are like in my community and I’m telling you it’s just not enough. And, although I keep saying these: it all boils down to a lack of funding.

Each year, this city sets a budget: you know, it decides what money is going to go where, how much will be spent on this and that. Unfortunately, homeless services are always at the bottom of the list. And despite how much the city council cries and moans about the problems of homelessness in this community, it’s all talk. They never seem to put their money where their mouth is.

It seems to me that if they were to spend a little bit more money on programs that were truly designed to help the homeless rise up and out of their homelessness, there would be less of a problem with homelessness AND in the end it would cost less.

In fact there have been studies that have proven it costs a community more – in the long run – if they have no comprehensive programs designed at helping the homeless become productive members of the community.

The other e-mail that I received yesterday afternoon is also the one that gave me the biggest chuckle. It told me that I needed to…

"…get a life, dude. If you got time to blog, you’ve got time to get a job and work like the rest of us. So just eat your sandwich and shut up."

Well, I am working again. Although they are small projects, they are a beginning. And, actually I don’t really have the time to blog. I have to make the time. That’s why now I get up every morning at around 4:00 AM instead of 6:30 or 7:00 like I used to.

The rest of my day is filled with trying to complete the small project or two that I may be working on at present, trying to find future projects, trying to save money so that I can transition out of homelessness back into the community – and, basically trying to survive and raise my standard of living.

How long is that going to take? I haven’t the faintest idea. But right now, that’s my goal.

P. S. – I did eat my sandwich and it was absolutely delicious! Thank you José and Mary.


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