Homelessness - Societal Problem

posted May 17, 2018, 9:39 AM by Andrew Chadick   [ updated Jul 16, 2018, 11:44 AM ]
There are many different ways to look at the problems associated with homelessness.   First and foremost, one must understand what it means to be homeless, and what it is not. 

Many find themselves in this situation for a number of reasons, loss of a job, family disowns them, run away from home, abusive relationships, addiction, mental illness, and even natural disaster.  

Being homeless means that you are dependent on only yourself for survival.  Being homeless can be embarrassing, can make one feel as less than, and can be emotionally devastating.

Friends and acknowledgement by others, including conversation or any social interaction becomes more valuable than things.  When one has lost everything, those that make connections, and are kind, mean more than any thing.  
Maintaining hope is paramount.  For those that want to help a homeless person that is willing and able, and wants to reintegrate back in to society, there are both short term needs and long term needs.  
Basic necessities that need to be met are food, shelter, medical aid, and clothing.  Any and all of these help. 
Note: too much of any of these can make the situation worse if there is no where to store excess items.  You just end up with waste and excess scattered around, which eventually needs to be dealt with, and probably will end up in a landfill as garbage.

Homelessness has many faces and many problems, especially in the form of healthcare.  There is a distinct lack of resources available.  No insurance, means no way to pay bills, embarrassment about the situation and appearances, lack of knowledge or where to go or how to apply for help.  Lack of transportation.  All of these are huge barriers to helping get people back on their feet.  
Even when getting medical help that was sought by the individual or family, there are issues with that healthcare, some medical practitioners don't understand the conditions that may be present in the every day environment, poor hygiene, frequent infections from living in areas that aren't ideal, abuse, and not being able to come back for future appointments on a specific schedule are all big issues.

There are those that are homeless, whom simply don't want help, or are too sick to care about being part of society.  There is a chunk of the homeless population that has a mental illness, schizophrenia, psychosis, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and low functioning anxiety are just a few.
Many also self medicate, and have a problem with substance abuse - drugs and/or alcohol.  
Disease is also an issue, everything from AIDS/HIV and Hepatitis, to heart, liver, kidney, and cancer diseases.  There are also side effects of being homeless that one must deal with, heat exhaustion and frost bite are huge.  Then there is the normal stuff that most take for granted, asthma, digestive disorders, and even diabetes.

When dealing with the homeless, many have stereotypes that have been introduced to them while growing up, movies, television, even the radio has projected what is and what is not homelessness.  Homeless are characterized as not wanting a job, they choose to be homeless, they don't want help - they just want money for booze and drugs, they are uneducated, they are lazy, and they all have addictions.  These are all hurdles that have to be overcome.

There ARE many different types of homelessness; but remember, just as there are those that don't want help, there are those that want and need help, whom want to be back on their feet, they want a home, and be part of society; there are whole families and individuals with kids living and trying to get by, doing everything possible to get back in to a home. 

But what about the others? What do you do, how do you help those that are too sick, or so mentally ill to either help themselves, or others, and see a helping hand as anything more than a temporary crutch to just get by and maintain the status quo? How do you help them?  How do you get them the healthcare they need, the medication they need to stabilize or get their mental clarity back?  What do you do if they refuse help?  How do you deal with them? Where should they go?  Who will want them living outside their house, or on the sidewalks in their neighborhood?

For Seattle, and society in general, there are the obvious issues, people on the street with 'help me' signs, and tents on the sidewalks and under bridges, in our proverbial back yards.  There are homeless living next to streams, in parks, on public property, even private property.  Everyone walking by feels for them, but doesn't want them there.  

What choice do you have?  Help the homeless or ignore it and hope it all goes away?  

Handing a homeless person a dollar or two isn't helping.  It's enabling the problems to extend further and go on longer.

Help needs to come as a package deal, a place of shelter, food, clothing, and medical care - with NO STRINGS attached to that help.  There are non-profits that help.  There aren't enough however.  
How do you get them the funding so they can make more of an impact?  How do you get more non-profits to help in this effort?      

I can tell you this, hoping it, homelessness, will all magically go away, isn't working.  We as a society need to act.  

In regard to Seattle specifically;  It has been suggested that Seattle just has a "culture of homelessness", which is why the homeless population is one of the highest per capita in the nation, and that our problems revolve around this culture of acceptance. 
It has also been suggested in the media that our local government is just enabling the problem and making it worse.  
Is Seattle just enabling the problems of the homeless and further just seeking more funding through taxation just to make the problems associated with homelessness worse?  

I guess this really depends on how you look at it.  While I don't agree with everything that is going on, there are things that are being done that are interesting.  And, who knows?  Maybe those efforts will actually help someone.

Seattle is spending a lot of money trying to help, and they are floundering, trying to come up with results. 
The local government is trying to do something.  Is it effective? Are they making a difference?  
Komonews.com reports that Seattle spent $53 million in 2017 on homelessness and related problems, with a return of helping just over 5,000 people get back on their feet; get back in to permanent housing and rejoin society.  Among the figures released, 35 Tons of waste has also been shipped off to landfills. All of these numbers are just growing as time goes on.  Ask yourself, what price is worth the end result of ending homelessness?  What amount of money is worth the return?  This is an open ended question.  There is no right answer.  There needs to be an answer, and we need to put our minds together to come up with a few, not just one.  

Then there is THE big question: Let's say you build it, so they will come, you have all the housing, places set up, medical ready, food banks, services, and anything someone would want or need to get back on their feet... What if they don't come? What if they refuse to come?  What do you do then?