American Samizdat

Wednesday, April 11, 2007. *
I am homeless. This is the second time in a year that I've been so. It ain't easy.

Just about a year ago, I was laid off from a job I had held for four years. It was a pretty good job, doing research, geographic information systems, and data analysis for an institute at a local university. The layoff was unexpected. I drew unemployment for awhile, had an apartment.

Not long after the layoff, however, I went into a deep clinical depression, was hospitalized for awhile and have needed to spend a time recovering. Financially, however, I was a mess, lost my apartment, and spent several weeks in a local homeless shelter. Boy, did I learn a lot.

I got back on my feet, started looking for a job, got an apartment. I was doing all right, then got hit with another bout of depression and had to be hospitalized again.

Hospital bills, other unforeseen expenses, etc. I lost my apartment again about two months ago. So I'm homeless again, living in a shelter program.

I'm pretty lucky. (What?!! . . . "lucky"?!)

Yeah, lucky. Because the county I live in has a shelter which also provides a lot of services: substance abuse/alcoholism counseling, 12 step meetings, mental health care, including a psychiatrist, a case manager, job-hunting assistance, money management counseling, transitional housing, and connections to other services, like medical care. For free. It's not a great place, of course: dormitory living with people in a very wide range of situations, like real street bums, active alcoholics, junkies, crackheads, mentally ill folks, folks in crisis like me, folks who lost their jobs and can't find new ones, folks who lost relationships and/or got divorced and really screwed because of it, disabled veterans, released prisoners, and just damn unlucky, confused, and lonely folks.

But the place is fairly safe and the staff work hard. It got really fucking cold last week and the shelter crammed in as many folks as would fit. Food, clothing, shelter in a life-threatening situation.

This isn't true in a lot of areas in this country. But you probably know that. I read an article yesterday about a homeless man who was beaten to death by a gang of suburban kids. This has happened often in the past few years. It seems it's a brutal sport.

"Street people" are severely marginalized. Prejudices are still ubiquitous. Once in the circle, it's hard to get out. Many cities and communities either arrest homeless folks or just push them outta town (this is called "passing the trash"). Many places have no shelter or programs, other have just the bare minimum. Charity and humanity is in short supply. I know I'll make it through (with some help), because I'm smart, very employable, and resilient. There's sometimes very little hope for many of my brothers and sisters out here.

There aren't many, but there are some folks on our side:

Just Neighbors . . .
The Just Neighbors Mission

The mission of Just Neighbors is to raise awareness of the root causes of poverty and homelessness.

Just Neighbors brings to its participants a deep understanding of the reality of poverty and a deep empathy for people living in poverty. Congregations, nonprofit organizations, colleges, universities, and high schools are using the program to change attitudes, to recruit volunteers, and to empower them as advocates for their neighbors in need.

The entire Just Neighbors experience is designed to foster a sense of community among the participants. It is an engaging, thought-provoking curriculum that offers a wealth of resources and materials along with the flexibility to make the program work in the widest possible range of settings and organizations.
National Coalition for the Homeless.
The National Coalition for the Homeless, founded in 1984, is a national network of people who are currently experiencing or who have experienced homelessness, activists and advocates, community-based and faith-based service providers, and others committed to a single mission. That mission, our common bond, is to end homelessness. We are committed to creating the systemic and attitudinal changes necessary to prevent and end homelessness. At the same time, we work to meet the immediate needs of people who are currently experiencing homelessness or who are at risk of doing so. We take as our first principle of practice that people who are currently experiencing homelessness or have formerly experienced homelessness must be actively involved in all of our work.

Core Principles

* Every member of society, including people experiencing homelessness, has a right to basic economic and social entitlements of which safe, decent, accessible, affordable, and permanent housing is a definitive component.

* It is a societal responsibility to provide safe, decent, accessible, affordable, and permanent housing for all people, including people experiencing homelessness, who are unable to secure such housing through their own means.

* All people, including people experiencing homelessness, who are able to secure safe, decent, accessible, affordable, and permanent housing through their own means need economic and social supports to enable them to do so.

* People experiencing homelessness deserve access to safe, decent, accessible, affordable, and permanent housing through the same systems and programs available to people with housing.

* People experiencing homelessness have unique needs and life circumstances that may be addressed through housing programs designed specifically for them.

* All people should have equal access to safe, decent, accessible, affordable, and permanent housing regardless of their unique needs or life circumstances.

* Universal access to safe, decent, accessible, affordable, and permanent housing is a measure of a truly just society.
National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Our Work
The National Alliance to End Homelessness is a leading voice on the issue of homelessness. The Alliance analyzes policy and develops pragmatic, cost-effective policy solutions. We work collaboratively with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to build state and local capacity, leading to stronger programs and policies that help homeless individuals and families make positive changes in their lives. We provide data and research to policymakers and elected officials in order to inform policy debates and educate the public and opinion leaders nationwide.

The Ten Year Plan
Guiding our work is A Plan: Not a Dream—How to End Homelessness in Ten Years. The Alliance’s Ten Year Plan identifies our nation's current challenges in addressing the problem and lays out practical steps that can be taken to change its present course and truly end homelessness. The announcement of this plan started a snowball effect that is now felt across the country. The Administration and Congress have adopted significant parts of the Ten Year Plan as policy goals. Opinion leaders have begun to echo the language and key concepts of the plan and communities and states across the nation have taken up the challenge to end homelessness. Hundreds of communities are developing or have implemented plans to end homelessness within ten years. Across the country, the movement is growing. Now more than ever, our nation is poised to end homelessness.
Homelessness is fundamentally an economic problem. These and other groups, agencies, and programs are trying to address this. Especially under the regime of the Doubleduh-Chainey Gang, it seems an impossible task. But we must try.

On a personal note, we're doing a fundraiser here to keep me alive (and in cigarettes and bus fare) as I look for a job. My finances are trashed and I can use whatever help I can get. Please. Just donate what you can, if you can - I'll be more grateful than you can imagine.

Thank you.

Be at peace.
posted by Unknown at 9:58 AM
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