152.The Semi Homeless

Semi Homeless and Homeless Road Home. Photo by Wanderingvet
Just the other day I was speaking with an old friend who is also a Vietnam era veteran.

Times have been hard for him of late. After surviving cancer a few years ago, recovering and spending years cancer free, the economy has now overtaken him. This man is an incredible man who over the years had taught many to be successful, provided affordable housing for many, and now has lost his home through down turns out of his control.

My friend is not homeless of now, thankfully he has raised a wonderful family. He did not disclose how he is living and is working below his level of expertise just to make an income.

This is not a new story in America of late nor an uncommon story. Unfortunately for many that this happens to there is no place for them to go. You hear stories on the news of where this is happening, but what is being done about this.? Nothing.

There are now many families who are faced with taking in their new Homeless Relatives. Some relatives have that spare room that all of a sudden now has a husband, wife and children living in it. Some are through job losses, some are there because food and fuel have made living tenuous.

In this country, living with a relative does not count according to HUD and VA as being Homeless. This is a case of family charity, which the VA and HUD are currently thriving on. When a veteran is discharged from the services he is discharged back to his “home of record”. Often that HOR as it is known as no longer exists after deployments and service and a service member is often discharged into a version of homelessness or Couch Surfing.

The veterans often return to family, and things become stressed over time. He has to find a job, housing, and readjust to a new style of life again. This can be difficult for younger veterans as well as older veterans. Recalls to service often make it impossible for soldiers discharged and then recalled to make any permanent home. I personally know soldiers that have been adjusting and moving in to new places only to have their transitions cut short due to OIF / OEF needs. I am not condemning the War on Terror here, just pointing out both a side affect and an effect.

The stress on the family often leads to Veteran Homelessness. The increased tension often causes rifts in families. Couch surfing veterans, those that go from friend to friend staying nights here and there is also a common version of homelessness. This then leads to strains on friendships wondering when it will end. Sometimes it is tough for people to get a step back up into the mainstream, especially families.

The other day I met a gentleman walking down a wooded trail where the homeless are known to dwell. He stated that normally he stays to the southern part of the county. He was strolling with his sleeping bag and a half eaten bag of chips sticking out of the top of his stuff sack. He was clean and groomed. I noticed his lack of anything but the sleeping bag and asked him about it. He says he sometimes has a place to stay and sometimes he does not. I fear this is going to increase the numbers of the “Semi Homeless”.

The Semi Homeless are those that are currently bouncing between relatives, their cars, street living and the Homeless Shelters. The National League of Cities has noted the use of emergency shelter increased in over 250 respondent cities by over 22%.

We have created many acts that have not accomplished anything to aid our citizens. The “Displaced Workers Act” is a real laugh as a propaganda piece without teeth. The NRA or National Recovery Administration was such an act. It was eventually disestablished at the beginning of W.W.II due to the increase in production. It might be something that this country needs to revisit.

The NRA created jobs, shelter and a step back into life for many that had lost a lot. When you have more homeless and records of people losing jobs and housing that are greater in numbers than the population of Houston, Texas….”Houston there is a problem”. The State of Michigan has close to 7% unemployment. That means that population has been again sent down to Welfare, Charity and the clemency of employers.

When you combine foreclosures, renter evictions, to the total of homeless people according to HUD which HUD’s numbers are an underestimate, there are over 3 million possibly on the streets, deserts, forests, doubled up with relatives, friends and on the roadways of our country.

The definition of Homelessness according to McKinney-Vento is outdated since the Clinton era and was possibly outdated even then. NAFTA in creating an exit of jobs for this nation as a result of “Fair Trade” has taken it in the shortpants. The fact that many nonprofits fail to exclaim this and pressure congress on a re-write is out of bizarre in own way. There has never been a time where social overhaul in this nation is needed as now. It does not matter which party is in power. We have to quit electing “professional politicians” to be Senators, Congressional Representatives. There should be Congressional Term Limits as there are on the Presidency I believe since so many of our elected representatives are out of touch with the people.

After the “Fall of the Berlin Wall” and the end of the first Gulf War, the U.S. Government fired a lot of professional “Privates, Specialists and Sergeants” to stream line defense budgets. They gave these Veterans of 6 to 8 years or more service as little as 2,000 dollars to retire before tax.

The VA in a recent report from two years ago stated about the increase in Veteran Homeless documented in another report as…”It said what it says” when Peter Dougherty was questioned on it. Peter fell in line and is now parroting reduction in Veteran Homelessness.

The problem with that report and the testimony is that you have to understand that those congressional representatives and senators demanded the cutbacks, reduced payouts, and forced homelessness on many.

Maybe it is time to dust off the play books of the past. The streets are filling all the time with new homeless faces including your former neighbors and friends. They do not tell you they went to the streets, they just disappear.



1 Response to “152.The Semi Homeless”

  1. June 2, 2008 at 10:35 pm

    Hey friends, I am looking for WordPress sites about homelessness and it was good finding this one. I myself am researching the situation in my hometown and I think I’ll learn a lot from your posts. Thanks a lot and keep it up.

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