There is a certain homeless population on the streets, I guess the term used by those who like to label these kind of things, is chronic.
They are most all drug dependent and because of this, it is impossible for them to enter programs or housing. So they live on the streets stay high and unsafe. Most all of their backgrounds contain more than your every day trauma.
My biggest problem with a lot of helping agencies is that they have way to many rules of entry, and kick people out for the smallest of infractions.
I read recently about a model used in Utah, where they simply house people and don’t ask questions. It has been highly successful in keeping people off the streets and they say the cost is less than having them in and out of the emergency rooms and jails.
Christ was often moved by compassion to heal people.
So I want ordinary folks to think deeply and compassionately about the homeless.
A lot of Vietnam Vets are still homeless, they went through the great trauma of war, and returned as villains.
The American family was falling apart by the sixties as well, so a lot of these guys had no one to nurture or care for them. Unloved and unwanted, they roam the streets, high on this or that, wishing to die, or hoping for someone to love them.
Compare them with the World War 2 vets who returned as hero’s and to intact families. Because of that many were able to lead very productive lives after the war.
Well most of the chronically homeless have been through some kind of childhood war zone that includes things like: rape, incest, molestations, daily beatings, ritual abuse, etc.
So ask yourself this question, if you had just come out of a war zone how would you like to be treated?
I would guess with compassion and great tenderness.
You would be surprised how far just a truly kind word will go with a lot of the chronic homeless.
I spent seven years homeless dealing with a molestation trauma, and mine was minor compared to most of the stories I heard from other homeless people. That kind of thing can take a terrible toll on the mind, you get stuck is what happens deeply stuck, and in my mind human kindness and God’s love are the only antidote.
The following is from my Portland journal. This woman despite her great stress, showed great courage and great humor. I wish her every tenderness.
I recently met an overly tan Hobo woman just up from LA, Venice Beach I believe. She had been on the streets down there for 7 years. She wanted a light and then gave me half a cigarette when she saw how short my snipes were.
She started counting out some money, it looked like around 8 bucks or so. I wasn’t really paying that much attention, but she said she needed three more bucks for breakfast in the morning.
I had a dollar in my pocket and handed it to her. She then made me laugh by asking, “You wouldn’t by chance have an apartment in there would you?”
It was over ninety degrees, she had on a long sleeve shirt, and was on the thin side, her hands were very strong however, I imagine from all those years of being a hobo.
It was then I started to put things together. Breakfast was not on her mind, her next heroin fix was. She had been high for our conversation because she started to nod in and out (this is common for folks coming down off a heroine high) as she was talking to me.
She left Portland those 7 years ago after an ending an abusive marriage, because there were no, or few, shelters for women at that time. This woman has a strong death wish. She said a philanthropist donated a bunch of money for a woman’s shelter in Portland after a lady died on the streets from exposure one winter.
She started saying how great it would be to die that way, “No pain, just numb and sort of float off,” I told her I didn’t want her dying off quite yet. I mean Christ, what else do you say?
Now would I have given here the money, knowing it was going to heroin? Tough question, right now I would say yes. My training as a social worker would say no, it is not good to enable drug use. However, my Christian training tells me never to judge, and to give when asked.
My childhood training, which I am working myself out of, would have said her every problem was somehow my fault, and then I would have fretted for days, until I saw her again, wondering if my dollar would have contributed to her death. God has her soul and her ultimate destiny, who am I to judge her or even drug use at any level?
I ran into her a few days later, she vaguely remembered me. She does have a good sense of humor because I was pitching her shit about nodding off during our previous conversation, conning me out of a dollar, and the fact that she could use a few pounds.
She made fun of my fat belly and my over all loudness. A lady bought us breakfast with coffee and orange juice. Julie spent quite some time decorating her bagel with cream cheese and chia seeds, takes one bite and says she is full. So I say, “I am Julie, I exist on coffee and chia seeds, looking to get down to a swarthy 98lbs.” she laughed pretty hard at that.
On a sad note she was kicked out of the women’s shelter for shooting up heroin in the bathroom. Knock, knock, knock, Julie we are coming in there. They found her medicine kit on the sink.
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