Showing posts with label homeless people. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homeless people. Show all posts

Monday, May 26, 2014

Homeless Veterans

I am a veteran.  I was in the U.S. Navy from 1982 to 1984.  I am now homeless. And, like most homeless veterans, my tour of duty did not cause me to become homeless. You would be hard pressed to find any person who became homeless as a direct result of their military service.   So, I don't really see how the country could be held responsible for our homelessness.  On the other hand, the fact that these homeless veterans did serve the country, stood on the line between the U.S. and any potential enemy, all for relatively poor pay and less than desirable living conditions, perhaps the country, as a show of respect for veterans, should provide services to the veterans who are currently homeless - should lift them back up to an honorable living situation.

The one problem I have regarding the discussion of homeless veterans, that is, of separating the homeless population into different kinds (homeless veterans as one kind, homeless families as another kind, homeless teens, homeless gays, homeless addicts, homeless mentally ill, etc.), is that this act unwittingly leads to people passing judgment on homeless people based on what kind they are, and determining that some homeless people are more deserving of help than others.  Or, even worse, deciding that some homeless people don't deserve any help.

There currently exists programs for homeless veterans, and these programs exclude everyone else.  There are programs for homeless alcoholics that also exclude everyone else.   Programs for teens, programs for families, programs for the mentally ill - all excluding other types of homeless people.  Because of this there are many homeless people who don't fit into any of these categories and so are unable to receive the kind of help that other homeless people do.

The entire homeless population is not so large that we cannot afford to help all homeless people regardless of type.   It time to help all homeless people because, after all, they are all people.

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Best Food For Homeless People

What is the best food to feed to homeless people?

At first is sounds like an odd question, perhaps even a bit rude.   But then considering the conditions in which homeless people live, there are some things that should be taken into account.

The Food Pyramid is the best place to start.   Fruits and vegetables, the natural foods rich in vitamins and minerals, are most needed.  Meat and bread, not so much.   But this is all common sense.

Homeless people are humans!

LOL, yes, it is a silly statement, but you'd be surprised by the number of people who think of the homeless as something less. But, when it comes to food, what is healthy for one human is more than likely healthy for all humans. AND health concerns are equally represented in the homeless population.

There are some special dietary needs of the homeless that people feeding the homeless should consider.
  • Hydration - More than anything else, homeless people need water, and plenty of it.  The usual drinks, coffee, beer, colas, etc., are all diuretics, meaning that they dehydrate people.   Forget the sodas and energy drinks and caffeine and stick with good ol' water, especially in hot weather. (reusable bottles are best)
  • Soft foods are preferred - Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that homeless people have little access to good dental care, and because of this their teeth are not in the best shape.  Many homeless are missing teeth, and what few remain are broken jagged remnants. Foods that are hard, or require a lot of chewing, are often passed over by the homeless.
  • Vitamin B12 - Alcoholism causes vitamin deficiencies, most especially vitamin B12, a lack of which can cause serious brain damage. Other deficiencies caused by alcoholism are, Folate, Vitamin A, and Calcium.  Foods high in these vitamins are best for homeless people.
  • Conveniency - If you do not have a kitchen and dining facility in which to properly prepare and serve food, it is best to make the food as travel friendly as possible.   Canned and processed foods are unhealthy, but they can be easily carried in backpacks.  Also, considering that homeless people do not have proper storage facilities (no pantry or refrigerator), it is best to not overload the homeless with too much food.  The food will likely go bad before it is consumed and will be wasted.
  • Availability - Funding is a major consideration when feeding the homeless.  The cost of food must be weighed against the number of people being served.   This makes it all the more important to be creative in developing food sources, and you might be surprised at who would be willing to donate food and other goods to your project.   Grocery stores are often willing to donate fruits and vegetables that are still good but have cycled out, bakeries often donate day old bread, even Starbucks has been known to donate unsold pastries and coffee beans, etc. 
Independent groups and individuals wanting to feed the homeless should be warned about one thing in particular.   More and more cities are requiring that people use codes-approved facilities that have been inspected by the city, in preparing the food that is served.   If you set up in a city park or on a sidewalk near where the homeless congregate, expect to receive a visit from the police.   Even if you have not broken any laws, the police may attempt to intimidate you, to get you to stop feeding the homeless.   There is a misguided belief that feeding homeless people actually creates homelessness.  Of course this isn't true, but that won't stop the police from trying to shut down your feeding program.  THE MORE COMMUNITY AND POLITICAL SUPPORT YOU ARE ABLE TO GENERATE FOR YOUR WORK WITH THE HOMELESS, THE LESS LIKELY THE POLICE, OR OTHERS, WILL BOTHER YOU.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Matthew 7:9

"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?

Everything I hear, from the people in the trenches, the homeless service providers that is, says that demand is up - a lot. That is the best indicator that the homeless population is increasing - a lot.

It is time to stop playing games with the lives of homeless people - political games, religious games, selfish games - or any combination thereof.

Since we have an expectation for political and religious organizations to handle issues of homelessness, and since politicians and religious persons are most likely to make promises of handling homeless issues, it is time for us to pay attention to what these people do for, and to, homeless people. And we need to hold them much more accountable than we currently do.

The wise saying quoted above questions the appropriateness of one's response to those in need. If someone needs water, why give them fire? If someone needs a doctor, why give them a Bible? If someone needs love, why tell them to pray to God? If someone needs food, why give them something they cannot eat?

If someone asks for religious instruction, then by all means give religious instruction. But of all the needs among the homeless, that is the least needed thing.

And for all you people motivated to 'lead homeless people to Christ' I tell you the truth - you are more likely to show the love and healing power of God by providing the practical things of life to the homeless, than by preaching at them. There is no magic in the words within the Bible. The Bible is only an instruction book designed to bring the magic out of you. And only when you get your head out of the Bible and apply what it teaches you, to real world, will you become of any worth, to God or the homeless.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Trying To Beat The Homeless At Their Own Game

Bench-Warmers Sought to Block Homeless

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A community activist thinks a few couch potatoes, strategically placed on sidewalk benches in an upscale shopping district, will keep transients on their feet and on the move.

Esther Viti, who oversees the donation of public benches for a merchants' association in La Jolla, sent an e-mail to 45 other activists last week asking them to sit in three-hour shifts, no bathroom breaks allowed.

"After all, you MUST OCCUPY THAT BENCH continually for three hours to prevent that homeless person from sitting on that bench," the e-mail said.

Donors weren't happy that transients were sleeping on benches they had provided for the public, Viti said.

The group previously tried installing benches with metal dividers that split the seats. Transients simply began sleeping upright, said Deborah Marengo, president of Promote La Jolla.

No one has offered to sit a shift yet, Viti said. Some potential recruits expressed concern that the bench brigade could provoke retaliation from displaced transients.

In 2006, the Regional Task Force on Homeless estimated the homeless population at 9,600 countywide, which included 4,400 people within the city of San Diego.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Mundane Homeless Issues - Sleep

It's funny how the more common elements of life never get talked about, or blogged about. They are so "everyday" that they don't seem worth discussing.

With homelessness, one of those mundane things people hardly ever talk about, and I've only mentioned a few time, is how sleep evades us. Real rest is never achieved. To rest, one must be able to relax, and relaxing isn't something homeless people can do. In mission-like shelters many people are constantly crowded together, and being herded from one thing to the next. Even as homeless people sleep in shelters, there is no real relaxation. There is constant noise and disruption. It's hard to fall asleep, and people are always awaken before they are ready. Some people, in response to the harassment, are able to avoid the wake-up call by the program men at 5am, by setting their internal clocks. They awake before 5, on their own. Though they are able to avoid the rude awakening, they lose even more sleep for it. And, with technology being more accessible, many homeless people now carry cell phones with them into the dorms, and their "peeps" are likely to call them at all hours of the night. The phone rings and wakes every one up. Or they have watches with alarms, which they purposely set to an early time, or they don't know how to turn the alarm off, and the watches become a problem too. And all of this happens in addition to the general rowdiness of some of the homeless who want to talk all night , cause they are one drugs, or are mentally ill, etc.

And this, among other things, makes the Room In The Inn program so desirable. Sleeping in a room with 12 people is much more relaxing than in a dorm of 150 people. Still Room In The Inn has its issues too. There is one church that has their homeless guests sleep in a filthy storage room with a window broken out. And from with I've gathered, that window has been broken at least two months. So, not only does the church bearly heat the room, the cold is allowed in unabated. Why the church would not get that window fixed is beyond me. It's a safety hazard as well as a health risk, to the homeless having to sleep in that room. This makes for a cold night, and increases the difficulty of getting restful sleep. Sure, the majority of churches participating in Room In The Inn do at least an adequate job. But about 10 percent of them - about 15 churches, really need to take some drastic steps in improving their ministry to the homeless, or else drop out of the program. Cause really, they are doing more harm than good. Most depressing of all, is that the administration of the Campus for Human Development, the organization that operates Room In The Inn, is very much aware of these problems, but refuses to do anything about it. For them, having as high a bed count as possible is more important that providing for the actual needs of the homeless.

When a homeless person is actually better off sleeping outside, than in a shelter of any kind, then there is a problem with that shelter that needs to be addressed.

The lack of good sleep is one of the biggest problems for the homeless. And yet it is rarely discussed. That the problem is so common, that people hardly recognize it, and instead accept it as normal - that is until something happens that brings it to light.

The downtown library has a security staff. Usually 3 guards are wandering the library at any one time. And the thing they spend the most time doing is waking up homeless people. I experience this too, and fairly often. And I've known homeless people to get barred from the library for sleeping infractions. Some homeless guy sits down to read the paper, and before you know it, he's nodding off. Personally, I don't understand why the library administration makes such a big deal about it. Unless the sleeper is snoring loudly, he/she really isn't disturbing anyone. Even today, I caught myself falling asleep while in the middle of reading something on my laptop.

And homeless people will also fall asleep in the parks - and that too is against the law. The city parks are all closed at night, so it is also difficult to get sleep when outside - "sleeping rough" as they say in Europe. Even those who can find some hidden place to sleep, they are likely to get only 4 hours or so. Traffic noises, exposure to the elements also keep one from enjoying proper sleep.

The only way a person can get sleep is to have a room to one's self, with a door they can close and lock, and be undisturbed. For the homeless, that means spending about 50 bucks a night at some sleazy hotel. And since day labor usually pays less than that, living at a cheap motel is out of the question.

Four to six hours of sleep is all that homeless people can usually muster, and often times they go a whole day without sleep. Being well rested is so important to having a good life, and for overcoming homelessness, no wonder leaving homelessness is a difficult thing to do.

So, homeless people are tired. Of course, when you look at them at the park in the middle of the day you only see them as lethargic, and call them lazy.

But then, you really don't know anything about them, do you?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Witch Hunt Homeless

Witches are bad, and we shouldn't allow them to exist in our society. We must therefore be diligent in removing them from among us a much as humanly possible.

So, how can you tell if someone is a witch? Well, you strap the accused to a chair, and drop the chair into a pond or river. If the person can manage to keep the chair afloat, and not drown, well then, he/she is obviously a witch. Once determined to be a witch they should then be burned at the stake. If, on the other hand, the person drowns and dies, well then, we'll know they weren't a witch after all. Of course they are dead, but at least their innocence is proven.

That is the way things used to be, especially among so called Christians. And this practice of drowning people accused of being witches lasted about 600 years. And I really doubt, during that time, that anyone was ever able to keep afloat.

But, have we, as a society, really advanced beyond such practices?

The call is now on to take away what few services are currently being given to the homeless. The belief behind this idea is that, once a homeless person no long has any services, no shelter, no food, no right to be anywhere, not even in public spaces, like parks or sidewalks, then they will become non-homeless.

Just how far are people willing to go with this idea? Until the homeless begin to die from a lack of food, and protection from the elements? Will it have to get to that point before people realize that it is not the food and shelter given to homeless people that makes them, or keeps them, homeless?

There is certainly no science to back up such notions that denying services to homeless people motivates them to leave homelessness. But then again, witch hunts weren't based on science either.