spend my free time reading articles on Homelessness, Poverty, Urban Blight and Client Advocacy. It is my hobby – and I am not ashamed.
I did feel a little bad whan Jackie was 11 years old and told me she had seen more crack pipes than anyone else she knew, and asked why I worked with “Sex Fenders”. I had to explain they were people who had committed crimes and not Car Parts. And, I became a little alarmed when she diagnosed the man in CVS as being Psycho-Effective when he started talking to himself and trying to sell us his left shoe.
But I was proud when as a two-year old she walked up to the shivering and dirty man on the bus and gave him her bag of Cheerios. Today she is doing a presentation in her High School Health class about stress and symptoms of mental illness. (seriously, she lives with a pregnant mother on a social worker’s salary: she has seen some stress in action!)
The frustration is that I am used to finding an answer to anything I set my mind to. I can move an 8 foot sofa out down the steps and to the curb in the rain without any help. I can do any of those “brain teaser” wooden peg puzzles by the second try, and I love riddles and logic puzzles. (which my, Rocket Scientist/Engineer, father SAYS is pretty ironic since in practice I am much more emotional than practical).
Ending homelessness – or at least reducing the drastic and devastating effect it has on families . . . there has to be a simple universal solution. Jackie, my daughter, says that ending American Poverty and Homelessness is like curing Cancer and AIDs. We have all of the tools and all the best minds working on it – and sooner or later someone will accidentally stumble on a simple combination of factors that will wipe it out. And then – says the wise 16 year old – we have to find ways to tailor the solution to every individual, just the same way that AIDs and Cancer mutates in the human body – Poverty mutates to a unique scenario in every family.
so: How do you know to look for a treatment unless you know there is an illness?
The newest social treatment of the primary symptom of homelessness , being invisible, is making a change. The politicians (ahem, Meg Whitman) are still fear mongering and trading on the fear we have of being poor. And in return we translate our fear of losing everything to disgust of people already have and who are experiencing poverty. It makes it easier to agree to take funds out of social programs and cut Welfare from 5 years to 2. We still call the people asking for public assistance “Welfare Mothers” even though entire families are applying for aid.
I don’t know what the answers are – but I will continue to read and look for other ideas and let you know what my experiences are.