Can You Pass This Month’s Test on Homelessness?
EXTRA CREDIT ANSWER
Contrary to popular belief, homelessness isn’t simple. Rather, it’s complex. It’s difficult to explain, alleviate and especially difficult to solve. Each man, woman and child that passes from permanently housed to homeless confronts multiple influences that guide their destiny. Worse, a separate set of variables plays an important role in whether these individuals will remain homeless for a protracted time.
Clearly, in our experience, hopelessness is a super glue that keeps homeless men and women stuck on the streets. Many among the chronically unhoused are emotionally battered individuals who’ve simply given up on life. They see no sense in trying to clean themselves up, get a job, become rehoused and reestablish family ties. Many figure the results, which appear implausible at best, aren’t worth the herculean effort.
Bad habits are a second major reason the unsheltered remain homeless. After living on the streets for months—or even years—unhoused men and women lose many of the good habits they formerly held. Take the work ethic, for example. For most of his life, while permanently housed and holding a steady job, a homeless man we know, Jerry, probably managed his time wisely, set financial and career goals, and worked hard to accomplish them. His life was a stellar example of stability and progression. But when he became homeless, those traits flew out the window. Instead of planned progression, Jerry literally became a drifter.
Finally, competition is a third reason homeless people remain unsheltered. The permanently housed usually perceive competition as good. Business, sports and school provide three common examples. “Competition makes the cream rise to the top,” say advocates of competition. But competition can decimate homeless people. For instance, little is edifying about fiercely competing for the scare affordable housing available in L.A. And little is gained knowing you’re among the hundred “rejects” that applied for the one position you’re qualified for in a company. After losing several of these competitive battles, droves of homeless people throw in the towel.
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West Side Homeless Outreach is a major link between chronically unsheltered individuals, such as the one above, and the lifesaving services they need.
Randy lost his job and became homeless, proving that bad things can happen to good people.
Clothing donations from families and individuals are extremely important to West Side Homeless Outreach. Every year, we receive generous contributions from compassionate supporters.