First off I would like to begin this essay by stating that while I have had experience helping to relieve homelessness, I am beyond blessed to share that I have never myself been homeless. I am by no means an expert on the topic, yet it is something that has come to my attention throughout the course of my life as being a chronic issue in our society and around the world. Many people suffer from being homeless and not having the resources and opportunities to provide a roof over their heads. While it is true that I have spent several months of my life living in a hotel and couch surfing from home to home, I have been fortunate enough to always have a roof over my head. Many people, however, are not equally as lucky and find themselves forced into homelessness for several reasons. Often, these people are seen by society in a stereotypical fashion as beggars living on the streets, looking downtrodden and asking for money. In reality, homelessness takes many forms and can be broken down into three categories: situations, cyclical and chronic.
In the situational category, homelessness occurs when an individual or family is forced into homelessness due to the loss of a job or certain practical object that provides for the group. Typically, this person is the main ‘breadwinner’ and due to their misfortune, is unable to continue providing safe and secure housing for themselves or family members. Individuals are most often found in the cyclical form, when a person frequently falls in and out of homelessness. This can be due to a variety of factors, including drug abuse, mental illness conditions and other people dealing with abuse in a variety of ways. Typically, a person will fall in and out of homelessness in a cyclical manner, once they are able to get off the street they end up returning to their previous habits. Finally, chronic homelessness deals with individuals who are on the street and without a home for extended periods of time with little to no opportunity for an adjustment to their situation. The resources available to them are very limited and because of this, they have no opportunity to escape homelessness and dig their way out.
Many factors influence homelessness and different governments and legal entities deal with homelessness in different ways. Society and culture embrace homelessness and it’s definition differently and this defines how it is responded to as a whole. While living in Madison, Wisconsin, I volunteered weekly with a homeless shelter where individuals would come in off the street and have a bed and meal prepared for them for the night. The shelter had certain limitations for guests and the goal was to move them from homelessness to employment and eventually a home. This experience was an introduction for me to what homelessness was and that there are remedies out there. While money is certainly a big aspect to funding homeless change, it is the programs and educational tools given to individuals that help motivate, inspire and create change to reduce homelessness, one step at a time. I encourage each and every person to learn more about the topic and make an informed decision about how homelessness affects your community and world around, and finally how you can get involved and help out solve the issue.
About the Author:
Major: Film Production
Homelessness is a problem that has infected America and is not being cured or treated. It is too easy for people to ignore this problem, many people really believe that homeless people are just too lazy to work. This is truly not the case. Homeless people are unfortunate and unlucky, any bit of help that they can get is greatly appreciated. For me I have noticed something else that seems to be the problem and cause for homelessness. Often times you can see a homeless person talking to themselves or saying things that does not make sense. Mental illness is extremely apparent in many homeless people you see. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 20 to 25% of the homeless population in the United States suffers from some form of severe mental illness. Many homeless people clearly suffer from mental illness and this can be the entire purpose they are homeless. Severe mental illness can prevent people from being able to do everyday tasks and hold relationships with other people. It is difficult for these people to go get help on their own, many people with severe illness do not recognize that they have it, this makes it exceptionally harder for homeless people to get treated because they do not have anyone that can get help for them. I believe that to help out the homeless population we need to give them mental health exams. If a homeless person has schizophrenia they can have hallucinations and delusions which without treatment can make everyday life impossible. Also poor mental health can lead to poor physical health. If your mental health is severely bad you can struggle with doing easy tasks like keeping up your hygiene. We can start by getting homeless people food and clothes, the necessities would be great starters but it does not end there. We can no longer ignore this problem.
About the Author:
Honestly, homelessness is frustrating. Unknown to many, the homeless community is full of people who have simply been unlucky. However many of the homeless are in their position due to addiction or mental illness. When I see someone asking for money on the side of the road, my heart says to give. I think of all the positive resources that person could use my money for and I lean towards helping them. After further contemplation I think of the possibility that the use of my money would be not for self-nourishment, but for the perpetuation of an addiction.
In order to remove this discrepancy, we can help the homeless in different ways. Rather than hoping our money goes to the homeless’, we can jump straight to what will really help them. This is why food drives are extremely important. In fact, feeding the homeless directly is more helpful in the long run than just giving them a couple dollars.
Not only do food drives help the homeless, they improve the community around us. By coming together for a greater cause, we find comfort in each other and in the knowledge that we are assisting the lives of others.
Many believe we should not invest our time in the homeless because “it’s their fault they are homeless”, or because “they are a lost cause”. Unfortunately, these types of beliefs are what perpetuate homelessness further because these people lack the empathy to carry such beliefs. If you have never experienced a time where you can’t express stability in the most basic fundamentals of life such as nutrition, then how can you form such a distinct opinion? While some may have caused their own detriment, we must not use that as a reason to exile all the homeless. Everyone needs help in their life, whether successful or failing, rich or poor, housed or not and I believe it’s our job as human beings to stretch out a hand where it is needed. I’ve been blessed with a life in which I can take out some bread, peanut butter, and jelly, and make a sandwich without blinking an eye. Let us help those who can’t take out that bread, peanut butter, or jelly, by doing it for them; a gesture of care and support, from one loving human to another.
About the Author:
San Juan Capistrano CA
Major: Mechanical Engineering
This year, on the campus of Loyola Marymount University, our non-profit, PBJ, has grown into the most exciting and rewarding service opportunity available to students. With so much going on in the lives of students, PBJ offers a quick and simple way to give back to the Los Angeles community. All it takes is thirty minutes to two hours to brighten the day of hundreds of homeless people in LA’s skid row.
Having participated almost five times now, I can tell you that not only does PBJ satisfy the urge I’ve had to give back, but it’s also a fun and introspective experience. That mixture, I believe, is why the bi-weekly events are becoming more and more popular on campus. At times service can seem like a drag, or lack that feeling of actually doing good. But with PBJ you have the option of seeing the work you’ve done in action. After making 300-500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with friends, you can go down to skid row and personally help hand them out. You meet people who have very little, but still an exuberance and spirit that is heartwarming. Seeing that smile after you hand them a sandwich is as rewarding as anything you’ll ever feel. Not because it was extremely difficult, but because you know you’re making a person’s day at least a little bit better. At times in our world we forget that people like this exist, we get caught up in our lives and out problems and don’t acknowledge that there are people far worse off then us. PBJ is trying to shed a light on that by not just making a difference, but showing that difference. Using social media and word of mouth, the homeless issue in LA is starting to get the attention it deserves, something that is very hard in a place associated with glitz and glamour.
For now PBJ’s focus continues to be, doing as much as we can with what we have to offer; and what we have is a motivated student body who wants to make a change in this world. But PBJ will grow, as it has already shown since its inception. There is a want for this kind of service in a world that is all about seeing change, not waiting for it. PBJ shines a light on a problem that affects over three and a half million people in the United States. Whether we actually make a lasting change to this problem is yet to be seen, but with each peanut butter and jelly sandwich and each new smile, we know that we are progressing towards a better future.
About the Author