I've been with some friends over the last week of my life and I've been asked a lot of questions. I've been thinking of some of these questions and about the fact that I'm running out of things to write about. I've thought a lot about a few things that I left out in other cities and maybe somethings that I never meant to leave out but still, somehow, forgot to mention.
I feel like this might be kind of old information, but I've been thinking a lot lately about the different reasons people find themselves living on the streets.
There are people out there who, like me have chosen to be in the situation that they are. To most people this makes absolutely no sense. Honestly, I have trouble understanding it myself. I can understand wanting a simpler life. In a lot of ways "Mo' Money, Mo' Problems" is true, but at the same time, having a bed to go home to beats not paying utility bills. And with out a doubt, taking a shower everyday beats taking a shower every week. The romance of being completely free is, in my opinion, what makes people decide to live on the streets, at least it did for me. This is a tiny percentage of the people on the streets, however.
I haven't said much about it, but the obvious reason that some people are homeless is substance abuse. I haven't talked much about this on purpose. You see, one of the main reasons I'm experiencing this way of life is to be able to break down stereotypes, and what's a bigger stereotype than, "all homeless people are on drugs and always drunk"? But I've always said that stereotypes are stereotypes because in a lot of cases it's true. With a lot of the substance abuse there's mental illness. It's my experience that in a lot of these cases the people in the situation are veterans. Most of these guys are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Dealing with my own trauma from experiences in the past, I can relate and empathize with these people. Luckily for me, where they were failed, I was not. If we want to take a huge bite out of future generations of homelessness, we have to start with our veterans. A little bit of time in therapy will do wonders for each person returning from war. It's terrible that it's not mandatory for each person returning from war to at least undergo psychological evaluation. I'm not saying that everyone who experiences war is going to have issues, but there's a large enough percentage that something more needs to be done.
I touched on the group of homeless people who are suffering from mental illness, but not all of these people are self-medicating with drugs and alcohol; likewise not all of them are veterans. There are people who are born with a mental disability that can keep them from being able to hold a steady job. In many cases these people slip through the cracks of the Social Security system because they may not look or seem disabled, in some cases they themselves don't realize that there's something not normal about them. And so they go from job to job, not knowing why they can't handle holding just one of them, and spend there lives in poverty or homelessness.
This brings me to the last group of people I've clumped together, and the major reason I decided to live this time of my life in this way. In this economy there are too many hard working people losing their jobs. In many cases these are people who have given the best years of their lives to a company and a job they probably don't even enjoy. Some of them spent year in and year out working for weekends, vacation time and retirement. Then they lost everything they worked so hard for when the company either couldn't or refused to keep up with changes in the way business is done. And so now they find themselves living on unemployment which is quickly running out. There are successful business owners in that are finding themselves going from living in multiple houses to selling everything and moving into an apartment that is too small for their families. If things don't turn around soon, even these people will find themselves staring down poverty to the point of homelessness.
Next, it could be your job.