Catching Up

Posted: March 12, 2008 in Compassion, Employment, Homelessness, Housing, Misconceptions, Morality, Stereotypes

I received an email from a friend of mine a day or two ago. She mentioned that with the time change, she had arrived at work about 5 minutes late and in dire need of an infusion of coffee to give her a jump start. When I read her words I had to laugh to myself, because in my mind’s eye I could actually envision her being jolted wide awake by her large cup of coffee.

Keep in mind that she lives on the East coast. I, on the other hand, live on the West coast. There is a four hour difference between our time zones. On the day she had arrived late at work, I had woken up late. And although we had both been late on the same day, she had been late four hours earlier than I had been. Now, don’t ask me why but I found that extremely hilarious.  

The thing is this, since the time change this past weekend I haven’t been able to get up on time once this week. The alarm goes off and I hit the snooze button several times before I actually get out of bed. Then, when I do finally crawl out from under the sheets, it feels like my eyes have been super-glued together.

Today I hit the snooze button one time less than yesterday. That probably means that I’m starting to catch up. However, I seem to be catching up a lot slower than I used to when I was young(er). These past few days it has felt as though I’ve been catching up only 60 seconds per day. At that rate, I should be all caught up just in time for autumn – when we change the time again.

I’m not the only one who is trying to "catch up."

There are a number of homeless persons in my community who are trying to catch up. But that "catching up" has nothing to do with the time change. It has to do with their trying to find a way to become a "housed" member of the community.

Most of the time, the community in general doesn’t even notice them; doesn’t even know they exist as homeless. To the "uneducated" eye, they appear to be just regular folk who are trying to make ends meet like everyone else.

They aren’t as "down trodden" looking as the stereotypical idea of what most people thing of as a homeless person.

These "non-homeless looking" homeless persons take whatever types of jobs are available. They struggle to save enough money to put toward finding a place to live. Yet, they seem unable to make any significant headway. But it isn’t through lack of trying.

There are to large obstacles that stand in their way: lack of affordable housing and lack of programs to help them transition back into the community.

Lack of affordable housing is not only a detriment to those homeless who are trying to become self-sustaining members of the community, but it also creates more homeless. The rising costs of housing puts the potential of finding and maintaining a stable living environment beyond reach of the homeless who, most often can only find minimum wage paying jobs. Moreover, for seniors who are forced to live on a fixed income or families who are living hand to mouth, a rent increase brings them one step closer to becoming homeless.

Since most homeless support service agencies and organizations are inadequately funded, they are unable to implement or maintain programs that are designed to help the "working" homeless. The majority of their funding is placed in the "general" fund which only provides food and shelter, but little else. This means that the working homeless are left on their own and must rely solely on their own efforts. This in turn usually prolongs their length of homelessness.

Whatever funding homeless support service agencies utilize to help homeless transition into housing usually is earmarked for those homeless who have mental or emotional disabilities and those with alcohol or drug related addictions. Consequently the working homeless fall between the cracks because they do not fit the criteria of those who are "eligible" for aid.

Maybe it’s just the sleep issue I’m dealing with right now because of the time change; or maybe it’s that I’m just too simple minded to understand the "conventional wisdom" –

But, it seems to me that it makes a lot more sense to provide the funding and services necessary for those who are willing to be helped than it is to keep pouring money into programs for those homeless who are content with being homeless.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t continue to provide support services for every homeless person, but I’d much rather invest in a person who wants to get somewhere in life than someone who doesn’t.

It’s up to us to help them "catch up."

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Comments
  1. AnAmerican says:

    The good news is that “they” (whoever they may be) say that it takes about 4 days to adjust to the time change.

    The bad news is that we have a system that is sorely lacking in common sense and the ability to forge through redtape and bureaucracy to actually get folks that want help some assistance.

    Like yourself, I fail to see the complexity of these issues… folks need help, so let’s help them!

    AnAmerican,

    You hit the nail on the head… a lack of common sense.

    If local governments began using a bit of common sense instead trying to figure out how to pass laws and ordinances that penalize the homeless, perhaps more would get accomplished at helping the homeless transition back into the community.

    – m –

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