Get er Done!

Posted: February 5, 2013 in Donna Reeves' Research and Insights on Homelessness

Get Er Done!
By Donna Reeves
What does paradise look like from the street? A walk down the street will be hotter for the man with no shoes. Looking for a job will be harder without an address and a place to take a shower. Eating dinner will be harder for the diabetic with sores on his legs that can’t walk to the soup kitchen. And the ground will be much harder than the beds most of us will sleep in tonight.

How does it feel to lie down on concrete in the only safe place you can find to sleep? The rain soaks your clothing and you realize your Social Security card and license are missing. The night gets longer as you wait for morning, hoping your safe place to sleep is not discovered by police or the people selling crack on the corner, and you can sleep for at least a while. Asking people for money is not as easy as some might think, but eating is a priority and the sooner it is accomplished, the sooner you can look for a job.

How does it feel with the wind on your back when the future holds little hope for a place to lay your head? You cover in the night with as many articles of clothing as you can find. Your neck muscles tense against the cold and you wonder if you will freeze while you sleep or wake up one more time.

Pull your weary body off the ground and Get er done!

The problems faced by a homeless person begin with the simple things. Treasures are defined as showers, deodorant, soap, socks and a place to wash the other change of clothes. The world has changed for them and the smallest tasks can seem monumental in the face of all of the adversity they will face today. Finding enough food can sometimes take the biggest part of the day.

How did these people end up on the ground? Some of them fought for my freedom and then lost their focus because they were so traumatized. Some of them just walked away. Others lost everything and then couldn’t raise their head again for a while. Some of them are abused and beaten to the ground. Some are scared every night and they don’t know how to get out of this way of being. Some were abandoned and still others made enormous mistakes. Drug addiction and mental illness add to the mix and abused women and their children wait for the morning in the shelter of their cars.

There will always be difficult situations. How we react to them is the important part. There are some aggressive actions taking place across the United States to end and prevent homelessness. Solutions include emergency housing, transitional housing, supportive housing, permanent housing and housing vouchers,soup kitchens, clothes closets and food pantries.

The emergency housing programs offer immediate assistance for homeless clients. They provide showers, overnight housing and direction to community resources. Transitional housing agencies offer assistance with the transition from the emergency shelter or a street living situation to an affordable monthly apartment rental. These agencies also offer a place for clients to live while waiting for apartment placement. They may receive job search assistance and classes on how to improve their situations. Supportive housing offers assisted living for the elderly and handicapped homeless. Habitat for Humanity and others are working to provide permanent housing and a federal program is offering housing subsidy vouchers. We are hearing a persistent cry of, “END IT.” Since George Bush’s 2003 war on homelessness (Ending Homelessness, 2009), many other institutions are taking up the cause and acting to improve the situation.

I will begin this blog project for my English 386 course as a search for facts about the causes of homelessness and work to discover ways to strengthen the solutions. In the summer of 2013 I will be continuing the research to complete my internship titled An Entrepreneurial Study of Homelessness Solutions. I will begin the regular journal posts on this blog revealing portions of my research. Interviews with members of the homeless community will begin in the summer. I will post weekly updates from Key West, Florida as I interview these people and directors of the homeless outreach facilities. Please feel free to comment or add any helpful resources. -Donna

Ending Homelessness. (2009). CQ Researcher, 19(44), 1067-1068

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