Skip to main content

Let's Talk About Homelessness.

I was predominantly homeless for ten years. The first stint of that homelessness was in my hometown of San Francisco. I have fond memories of the Aranda hotel on Turk in the TL, nodding off on BART and waking up to the treescape in Orinda, foraging good food and nighttime brawls outside of the (now defunct) Carl's Jr. at seventh and market. While I never want to be homeless again, those were some of the most educational years of my life.

So when I read an article about people with too much money trying to, once again, evict homeless from San Francisco, it hit home. Homelessness is not what you think, and it's a far more complex issue than we want to acknowledge. 

So let me lay out some truths you may not know about being homeless.

1). Not Everyone Is Homeless By Choice--But More And More Are.
Living out of doors is an incredibly liberating experience. You can pretty much go and do whatever you want. Fall asleep in one city, wake up in another. Repeat. Take a temp job (Labor Ready or some such), work it for one day, scrape up enough to eat and clean yourself, move on. 

What I enjoyed most about it was that I didn't have to put on a mask, or shield part of my personality. There was a simple, albeit brutal logic to street justice, and it's not what you see in the movies. People construed as fake, or who were not known for keeping their word, had a very hard time getting by. All you had to do was be honest and be willing to work. If you had these two things, you could survive.

2). A Great Deal Of People Have No Other Choice.
I promise you, no mother is standing out in thirty degree weather with her children because she wants to be there. There are more and more people who cannot go home, out of fear for their safety, than we all would like to admit. This is especially true for male victims of domestic violence (I speak from experience here). Resources are scarce and the stigma is worse. A piece of paper doesn't stop a dedicated loser for beating someone up or worse. Shelters can be crime centers, but at least on the street, you can keep moving. Hide. Stay alive.

3). We're Not As Big On Second Chances As We Pretend We Are.
We all make mistakes. Some of us make criminal mistakes. And the truth is, in a lot of cases, once we've served our time, society isn't as willing to welcome us back as they'd like to believe. 
The stigma of being a criminal is incredibly difficult to shake, especially when you're trying to go straight. I'm not speaking of violent, major offenses, either. Try attempting to get a job when you've just gotten out of jail. Seriously, go try. I'll wait. 
When you're trying to re-define yourself when the world has already made up it's mind about you, that can be crushing. Why bother? (I'm very driven, and I'll be damned if I was gonna let all my naysayers be right about me).

The truth is, there are a lot of underlying factors when it comes to homelessness. Yeah, there are people who game the system, and there are those who enjoy the life, but there are a great, great many more who had the life thrust upon them and can't find a way out. We will never be able to "get rid" of homelessness. You think evicting them is going to do any good? These are the most resourceful people on the planet. They'll just move somewhere else and smile at you while they do it. 

Rather than throw money at the (bad) idea of pushing these guys out of the city, we need to be putting money at expanding resources for those living out of doors, in fear, or trying to start over. The focus needs to be on turning people into productive members of our society, rather than shunning them.

I've been off the street for eleven years, thanks to the resources availed to me.

Thanks for reading. 


Popular posts from this blog

The Long Road Home

I will end you tonight. No, wait. That's not where the story starts. The story starts two and a half years before this, when Michelle (referred to as Michelle for legal reasons because SATAN was too heavily trademarked) reached out to me by Facebook. She mentioned that we played the same Facebook game and she wanted to say hi. I had never, in fact, even heard of the Facebook game. But I was freshly broken out of a relationship and she was pretty with a good body so I said "Hurr, okay." Conversation ensues. She tells me we came up in the same place. We did not come up in the same place. We spent one night in San Francisco talking. But I really wanted to sleep with her. So, "Hurr, okay." Fast forward a few months. I've left Missouri for the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I've settled into the ass end of Lynnwood, a suburb of Seattle. The apartment was so bad that the landlord wrote the mold on the wall off as "crayon coloring

America: A True Story About Hatred and Unity

I wanted fast food tonight. That was all. I found myself at Burger King to pick up my wife's order. I was a few cars deep when I spotted the Confederate flag. I surreptitiously snapped a few photos. This was going to be a very different story. When I pull out of Burger King, it turns out there's more than one. In fact, there are four trucks, each flying variations of the flag. I have to go around the front of them to avoid an accident. They're parked right in the middle of the road. As I drive around them, each person in the vehicle makes it a point to ensure I see them. I do. They see me too. When I get to McDonald's (which is in the same lot), I learn that they're not taking debit cards at the moment. Terrific. I wanted chicken nuggets and instead, I get a run-in with the new Confederacy. So I make my way back to Burger King, again appearing in full view of the trucks. I place my order, get it, pay, and pull out. Then one of the

Wave Rocketbook Reviewed

I love writing by hand, and I love notebooks. I'll often devote entire budgets to them and when Officemax has one of their twenty-five cent sales, I'll buy them out. I often draft by hand, finding that the scene comes together more purely when it flows from a pen rather than a keyboard. So when DailyDot advertised a durable new type of notebook that you could use over and over again for the cheap price of twenty-five (thirty after shipping) US Dollars? I'm down. The Wave Rocketbook is meant to be elegant in its design and simple in its execution. The instructions come on the bag itself, and only the pen and notebook are included. The pen feels like any other, so you have to be careful not to mix it into your collection or you will end up marking your notebook with the wrong pen (like I did). The ink is erasable, which is a bonus. A place to put the pen would've been nice, but it clips easily, if not securely, into the ringed binding. The paper is thick and