Going In Circles

Posted: August 14, 2007 in Bureauacracy, Employment, Homelessness, Money

This past Sunday (Aug 12) the city of San Luis Obispo hosted/sponsored the Criterion Bike Race – an all day event. The race was held in the downtown area and quite a number of streets were blocked off to traffic. The course itself was laid out in such a way the cyclists made both left and right hand turns each lap. Nonetheless, the course itself was roughly circular in shape. The race wasn’t exactly one race, but rather a series of smaller races – one right after the other.

I watched the race for several laps, but then find myself getting bored watching them just go round and round so I caught a bus to one of the fast food restaurants to grab a cup of coffee and a couple of breakfast sandwiches. While on the bus I couldn’t help but think that many homeless people are also in a type of race that just goes round and round.  

There are a lot of homeless who are content with being homeless – either because they’ve resigned themselves to a life of homelessness or because they choose homelessness as their lifestyle to avoid having any type of responsibility. But then, there are those who would give an arm and a leg to be able to have a place to call home.

The circle that most homeless find themselves going round and round in is one that makes food and shelter the priority. This being so, those who don’t have some type of money coming in find themselves at the mercy of homeless support service agencies. And, because of the way these organizations are structured, the homeless – if they want to eat everyday – find themselves having to live life by a schedule that ties up most of their day just moving from one agency to another agency. This leaves little or no time that can be productively used for finding gainful employment.

Among those who deny themselves the lunch provided for them at the day center to go out and look for employment, find themselves losing weight. Their immune system becomes weaker as a result, and in the long run their health suffers.

The large majority of non-homeless people think that the solution for ending homelessness is that the homeless should just go out and get jobs. Although having a steady income is certainly a necessity if you’re going to have a place to live, money is just one of the equations. There is a large absence of affordable housing all across the country.

Even those homeless, who are lucky enough to get assistance through the Section 8 Low-Income Voucher program, discover that finding a place to live is just as difficult as find a place without the Section 8 program. In the end, many of them will find themselves with prolonged stays either at homeless shelters or just living on the streets.

The old way of doing things – when it comes to trying to help the homeless – simply aren’t working. And until the methodology that is being used has been updated and improved to deal with the actually needs of today’s homeless, the numbers of people who will find themselves residential disadvantaged will continue to increase.

That’s just the cold reality of it all.

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