Blurred Vision

Posted: August 8, 2007 in Homeless Shelters, Homelessness, Misconceptions

One of things that most homeless face everyday is discrimination. Sure, there are people who will actually reach out and try helping the homeless, but for the most part people have tendency to see the homeless as a drain on society.

I believe that one of the reasons is that the numbers of homeless is on a steady increase and people who would, under other circumstances, be willing to help feel that the situation has grown beyond control; that it’s become an epidemic.  

Part of the reason has to do with those agencies that provide services to the homeless. They tend to think that by providing food and shelter the rest will take care of itself, but that is seldom the case. Furthermore these agencies will cite the lack of funding as being the reason they are unable to provide better or more effective ways of helping the homeless.

Still I wonder if that’s all there is to it.

Agencies or organizations that provide food and shelter to the homeless are seldom, if ever, held accountable by the communities which they serve. Members of a city will contribute to these organizations but do not make it known to them that they expect real results. Subsequently, everything is done the way it has always been done. Unfortunately that proves to be ineffectual – especially considering that the face of homelessness has changed dramatically over the last two or three decades.

Gone are the days of the homeless being smelly old winos. Included in today’s homeless are senior citizens, women who are fleeing domestic abuse, families with children, veterans who cannot seem to get the proper help through the Department of Veterans Affairs, etcetera.

With the changing face of homelessness, so have the specific needs of the homeless changed. Until we recognize this reality, the numbers of homeless will simply continue to increase at an alarming rate. And, sadly, unless we begin requiring that those organizations, that we make donations to in behalf of the homeless, implement new and effective methods of meeting the needs of today’s homeless, our nation will continue to see the faces of children living life on the street.

Perhaps if we took the time to truly investigate what is actually going on behind the scenes at those organizations and agencies that provide services to the homeless and stop simply listening to the propaganda that they throw at us each time they go through the motions of trying to raise money, we’d have a clearer understanding of how little is actually being done to help the homeless transition back into our respective communities.

And, perhaps, if we started thinking of the homeless as individuals instead of as a group of undesirable people, we’d have a better chance at stemming the tide of homeless.

Maybe, if we turned the focus off to the preconceived images that we have of the homeless we might have a better chance of reducing the numbers of people who are faced with having to endure the shame and indignities that we, as a society, have saddled them with.

Who knows – we might even realize that it’s in our best interest to do so. But, we’ll never know until we try.

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