Tremaine L. Loadholt,until a couple of years ago, I lived in the neighborhood of my town where a great majority of our local homeless population camped out. I crossed paths with them often, because I didn’t drive. Because of this, and because I knew some of them from when I’d had to stay at the shelter, I brought many of them food and other things they could use on the regular. My children knew them, as well, and were encouraged to treat them with the politeness I taught my kids to use when addressing any adult. It wasn’t easy. Every other week, their dad would undo any compassion I’d managed to pull from them. He called the homeless “Hobos” and “Garbage” and told the kids they were there because they were lazy drunks. But that’s another story, for another day.
We didn’t have a pot to piss in, the kids and me. But we had more than they did, so we had something to provide. I think the less a person has, the more inclined a person is to share. It’s a weird paradox; that the more money someone has, the less that person is willing to part with that money. Of course, this is just what my experience has shown me. I could just be an outlier.
Then, a couple of years ago, a law was passed forbidding residents to give to the homeless in public. The legal way to give, the politicians said, was to donate to shelters, which would then be able to better provide for them.
I do that. I make up boxes with tampons, pads, extra socks, hand warmers, toothbrushes, and a list of other consumables not readily available in any shelter and drop them off. But I feel like I’m being told not to play with a kid just because that kid lives in a trailer or something. Like I’m a person and I shouldn’t be talking to those “non-people” living on the streets.
But they are people.
Each one is a person, with a life, and a story, and a goddamned right to be here.
Like you were saying, housing is an issue. It’s completely out of control. Our public housing vouchers were on a 3 year wait list forever, and the bucket the money for them came from dried up last year anyway. Help is pretty much a thing of the past.
A large percentage of the homeless are Alaska Natives who moved to Anchorage to escape the village without planning first, or they lost the job they’d planned for, or any number of other reasons. A large percentage of THOSE are chronic inebriates. We only have like 4 or 5 treatment beds allocated as detox beds, so even when someone decides he or she WANTS to get clean here, there’s a waiting list a mile long.
I hate to even try to GUESS how many people we’ve lost because of this deficit.
I have more to say but I’m literally falling asleep on my couch typing.
Tomorrow, my friend. xoxo