Why Help The Homeless?

Posted: May 27, 2008 in Compassion, Employment, Family, Health, Homelessness, Morality, Veterans

One of the emails I found waiting in my inbox this morning came right out and asked "…why should we help the homeless?"

It was quite a lengthy email which was really nothing more than a litany of complaints about the homeless. As far as this person was concerned the homeless should just "…take care of there own lives and not bohter the rest of us!" (the typos are his, not mine)  

The person seemed to feel that every homeless person should just go right out and find work; or else they should move somewhere else. Moreover this person felt that he shouldn’t be made to feel guilty if he didn’t choose to help the homeless because "… I got bills of my own too pay."

I haven’t responded to that email… yet. I placed it in the "pending" file. As soon as I can figure out how best to answer it in a manner that this gentleman might be able to understand, then I’ll send my reply. Then again, I may just put it in the Recycle Bin, since he seems to already have a mind set that will not be changed.

Still, I did want to address the question "… why should we help the homeless?"

So here goes…

As far as I can ascertain, almost every culture has some variation of the "golden rule" – behave toward others the way you would like them to behave toward you.

This being the case, I have to ask: if you were the one who was homeless, how would you want the rest of the community to treat you?

I’m a strong believer in "what goes around, comes around." So, think about the way you behave toward the homeless. If the shoe were on the other foot, would you want to be treated that same way?

For some, being treated the same way would be of no consequence since they behave toward the homeless with compassion, mercy and kindness. But for those who treat the homeless with scorn, disdain and contempt – I’m willing to be they’d be the first ones to cry "foul" if they were treated in a similar fashion. They’d be the ones who would complain the loudest at how disgustedly they were being treated.

Why should we help the homeless?

What if suddenly you found yourself without a home and you were unable to get some form of assistance through any of the homeless support service agencies? With the lack of adequate funding available for these agencies these days, that’s a high probability. Or, what if you "fell between the cracks" and didn’t qualify for certain types of assistance? Wouldn’t you like the rest of the community to give you a hand up?

Why should we help the homeless?

What if you were a single mother with dependant children? And, what if you had no place to leave your children during the day so that you could go out and look for employment? What if one of your children became ill and needed medical treatment? Or, what if you were the one who became sick? Who would care for your children if your illness required you to be hospitalized? Would you want your children taken away from you and placed into a Child Protective Services facility – and then not know whether you’d be able to get them back?

Why should we help the homeless?

What if you were a senior citizen with on-going medical needs? What if you had to choose between paying rent or paying for your prescribed medications? Medi-Cal and/or Medicare simply doesn’t cover all the costs. Paying the rent would keep you housed, but then you wouldn’t have your medications. Paying for your medications might force you into homelessness.

Why should we help the homeless?

What if you were a husband and father who was one of the 260,000 persons nationally whose jobs have been cut just since the beginning of this year and your home had gone into foreclosure or you couldn’t pay the rent and had faced eviction? Wouldn’t you want someone to step up and help you so that you could get your family off of the streets?

Why should we help the homeless?

What if you were one of nearly half a million homeless veterans who have served this nation; someone who has fought to protect the freedoms that everyone in this nation enjoys? Wouldn’t you want, at the very least, to be helped – if not for your humanity – then at least for the sacrifices you’ve made?

Why should we help the homeless?

How about for the most simplest – and most noble – of reasons: because it’s the right thing to do?

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Comments
  1. Luna says:

    One point that has been made that particularly strikes me is:
    “If you were in their shoes…”

    Well personally, if I ever did end up homeless, I would never, never ask someone for money directly. I would visit homeless shelters for help in obtaining a job; handing out newspapers, mowing lawns. Anything but resort to asking strangers for money simply because I am too reluctant to put effort.

    Yes I believe that homelessness is not something that you “do to yourself”. It can definitely be bad luck striking again and again, but hard work is what you do to get out of it. If homeless, I would only accept help from people that are lending a hand towards helping my future rather than buy me a donut.

    I am not saying people who are better off shouldn’t try and help, but rather help the homeless in the long-run by petitioning aid, or volunteering at home-less shelters that support such goals. I don’t support handing out money to any stranger that asks.

    • michael says:

      Luna,

      You made the statement: ” . . . if I ever did end up homeless, I would never, never ask someone for money directly. I would visit homeless shelters for help in obtaining a job; handing out newspapers, mowing lawns. Anything but resort to asking strangers for money simply because I am too reluctant to put effort.”

      Unfortunately, like so many others in the general population, you are under the impression that homeless shelters are the “cure all” for homelessness, or that if you found yourself homeless, the shelter system would facilitate a speedy recovery back into the mainstream of society. Sadly, that is far from reality. If you’d like, take a moment to read my posts: Are homeless support services organizations doing their job? and/or Many Of The Newly Homeless Continue To Fall Between The Cracks if you’d like to have a better understanding as to why a homeless shelters have failed at reducing homelessness, not only in the U.S., but in Canada as well.

      – m –

    • Johnathan says:

      Really you wouldn’t ask anyone for money, lets say you have a kid; you two are both homeless and haven’t eaten anything in 2 days because you are too stubborn to ask for money to live and support you family. Or lets say it is only you and you are sleeping outside and it is freezing cold, unbearable; your telling me you wouldn’t beg for money to get a blanket… please your full of bull lady!!

  2. Vicky E Coleman says:

    I think Most of you View “The homeless” as junkies, drunks and scum.
    Well, I am here to tell you that I have NEVER been homeless But have helped a few people out in the past and even the other day, Just because I care and I knew that I would be there soon without a miracle.

    My miracle Never came.. I am a Nail Technician of 24 yrs. If you saw me in the store with Nails done, (I do still have a part time Nail Tech Job) Hair done and dressed decently,… Would you know that I had been crying for weeks? That I had asked everyone I could for a little help with putting my things in storage and still, People had every excuse of why they couldn’t help. I’ve been begging for a 2nd job again to no avail so far. (I lost my 2nd job because I refused to sleep with the manager.) I feel Lost and scared for the first time in my life I have Nowhere to call home. I try to show a happy/normal attitude but that is fading fast due to the constant crying. and Yes, I SLIP THROUGH THE CRACKS FOR HELP. I have a very small income, I am NOT a drug or Alcohol abuser who has support groups. I am 45 yrs old next month and never thought I would spend my birthday hiding in the woods so no one knows my situation.

    I don’t think that God or anyone else would ask: “Why Help?” the answer to any HUMAN BEING is Why not help? I am a Grandmother to a 3 yr old who now can’t come to Grandma’s house. There isn’t one. I do believe that some people USE the help and support.. But there are some who don’t. Instead of talking about it.. why isn’t there some sort of site where we can all put in one dollar (or more) to help. There are over 300 so called Friends on my Facebook. My rent is $600.00. That would be $2.00 each to help me get through one month… I can’t post and ask, Partly out of Pride, since I am a known Professional Nail Tech in my small town. I am spending my last few nights trying to figure out how to be homeless and not let anyone know. My smile can no longer hide my tears. I’m in Florida.. so the mosquitoes should be really comfortable. The saddest thing is that there are empty new/foreclosed homes ALL over this area.. and yet I have no where to live because no bank or person will let you work for sweat equity to have a roof over your head. I think that the banks should have to let people rent them on an income basis.. The homes are sitting there empty anyway! Very Sad this country is.

  3. Darkstar says:

    Most homeless would rather spend the money on drugs!

    • michael says:

      Darkstar,

      Your statement is not only incorrect, but it further perpetuates stereotypes. Quantifiable data indicate that the majority of homeless do not have an addiction or substance abuse disorder. The fact is that only about 3 in 10 persons experiencing homelessness are alcohol or drug addicted — which places them in the minority. Therefore it is more accurate to say that some homeless will spend money on drugs.

      – m –

    • Johnathan says:

      Your are so wrong Darkstar, most of them wouldn’t. They just need money to help them survive day by day, without a job! Why don’t you take your respond to the thousand of homeless people that are verterans, then tell me what you think.

  4. Kaley says:

    i agree but we also need to look after ourselves with the bad economy we are going through! But Amen to this!

  5. LOLA MISAHU says:

    well, it is all good writing but i need TO WRITE A SPEECH ABOUT WHY AND PERSUADE TO HELP HOMELESS PEOPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Desmond says:

    what will jesus do…and everybody needs a 2 chance you had one why cant they.

  7. Hope says:

    I am a homeless senior with diabeties and 230.00 a month for meds not counting testing materials. no insurance cause I live in Idaho. Food assistance $16.00 per month, $100.00 a month hospital /dr. payment. With a very bad back pain problem which I can’t afford to get checked out. I worked all my life and 25 yrs. of that was graveyards, now they tell me social security is not owed me after they took my money for their lies. My check is $750.00 A MONTH. Can you afford rent and utilities,insurance or transportation on $350 bucks amonth or less? If you think you can I got news for you . YOU WILL BE HERE SOON AND PROBABLY WITH LESS). You better get right with yourself cause you are just gonna die sooner and no one gives a crap!!!!

  8. SebaWill says:

    The homeless need our help. It doesn’t matter what people say, because you’re right. It is the right thing to do. That should be the only reason for people to help.

  9. Fernando Morales-Ramos says:

    You should help I’m even helping and I am a young person. I started today and so far I got $2.56.

  10. Thank you so much for writing this! A friend and I made our own charity to help the homeless in February of this year and this sums up our beliefs! If only more people believed the same!

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