154. Housing Needed First

Clothes Packs

(typical wanderingvets aid pack carried for delivery to to homeless daily by wanderingvet)

Dear Friends…

Sometimes we get so far a long in our thoughts at times we become blind to what we are doing or what we have accomplished. I for one am guilty of this. In trying to aid I admit I have allowed myself to become frustrated by all that I have seen around me of late and in trying to express myself. We have a lot to do regarding homelessness in the United States, whether it is by trying to give some relief or dealing with the even the greater issue of housing.

In providing relief, Wanderingvets provides aid packs consisting of personal hygiene items to include: Shaving Gear, Dental Aids, Sanitizers, socks, underwear and First Aid items. Friends of Wanderingvet have also provided cold weather jackets, shirts and slacks. These items are taken out daily to the streets and donated to the homeless men and women we locate, and who accept them. I have run across a few homeless who have needed these items and graciously accepted them. I have also had some say “Thank You, but I already have enough”. The latter could always use them in the future they tell me but often it is “I have enough to carry right now”. I know some of these people could not take more, but also know that some of them just could not or did not want to be seen loading more items. Unfortunately, it will take more than clean changes of clothes handed out and tooth brushes to deal with the issue of homelessness. These are aid only items, not solutions.

I have also come across fake homeless hanging out trying to beg from people. A lot of these “professional beggars” have caused the homeless many problems. The majority of the homeless I have come across on the streets have not been asking for handouts. Most have been trying to find a place out of the rain, so they could sleep. Exhaustion among the homeless is common and leads to their health problems, both mental and physical.

A few communities of late are beginning to see the light though. In Virginia, one community has come to realize that without shelters and housing first, the homeless cannot get or maintain keeping a job. That those homeless whose jobs were working second and third shifts were sleeping in alleyways and losing the jobs they had. The limited hours of shelters makes it hard for one to rest and keep a job that is not in the time from of 5AM to 5PM and still have a place to sleep. Also without childcare, a lot of homeless women cannot earn income from steady employment to get themselves out of the grip of homelessness.

Recently there has been an upsurge of “Homeless Encampments”. The community of Lacey, WA is forcing the churches to house the homeless inside their buildings. This has led to them having to limit their services to their parishioners as well as the numbers of homeless they can adequately serve. Outside Reno, NV there is a homeless camp operating with some government interaction with the churches. The outside camps are not just springing up because there is an increase in homelessness. With the numbers of shelters that closed over the past ten years, a lot of the homeless have not been given the opportunity to get off the streets or aid in rebuilding their lives. Showers, rest, and the ability to be grounded to a spot to receive needed aid is also critical.

The fact that some cities are willing to work with their local charities is a good sign. To assist in aiding the homeless, cities cannot allow themselves to feel vindicated in passing the issues on to charities. Actually I have found recently that some citizens are of the belief that because the cities say the homeless are bad, they must be bad.

The other morning on my way to work, I saw a homeless man sleeping under a church’s awning after a night and morning of steady rain. I did not awaken him. I know it is hard to find a moments sleep at times when the weather is not cooperating. Restful sleep is something that the homeless do not get often.

Sheltering/Housing the homeless is the first step in aiding the homeless back to productive lives. Without proper grounding or giving the homeless a spot to operate from, they cannot regain a foothold in society. Unfortunately, the idea of keeping the homeless out, instead of providing a place for them is the predominate mission of most municipalities these days. This in turn has increased the length of time the homeless do spend on the streets and has increased both cities problems as well as the health, welfare problems as well as the increase in the numbers of the homeless.



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