I am still on the city of Arcadia’s Facebook page for residents and people who have been old school residents of that little city, 19 miles east of Los Angeles.
I loved growing up there. It was a perfect place to be a kid. I did little league, dance classes through the community, I volunteered at the library during the summer, I was a member of the international order of Joe’s daughters of the Masonic Temple, my church was there, and I met my mother at my elementary school.
The city is pretty financially well off. People who live there have means and opportunity to grow and have financial solidity.a large portion of the population is Asian and their money is in imports and exports from China. My oldest daughter went to school there until she was a sophomore in high school and she hated it so she transferred to North Hollywood High for her junior and senior years.
Today somebody was posting about a homeless person they saw. They posted that they called the police and complained and the police said there wasn’t much they could do. This is because it’s not illegal to be homeless. Some lady named Araceli mentioned that you should just ignore the person and not look at them and hope that they go away because they are probably dangerously mentally ill.
Homelessness is a trauma, that is for certain. Mental health issues are a severe and important factor in the increasing number of homeless people that we see. But not all people who are mentally ill are dangerous. People who have depression are mentally ill but they’re not dangerous. People can have all kinds of mental health issues like ADHD and that doesn’t make them dangerous. It may make it difficult for them to hold down a job and make enough money and keep housing and that could lead to homelessness. But the assumption that all homeless people are dangerous and therefore should be ignored is terrible.
If you’ve been here for a while with me then you know how I feel about treating all people with dignity.
I stated that what this person should do is assess the needs of this person and also assess the person by doing the following.
- Look Look at them
- Catch their eye and smile and see if they will return the response. People who are homeless are so used to being invisible it’s almost like being a ghost. They might be surprised that you noticed them at all
- Try to talk to them. Have normal small talk about the weather, or traffic, or ask them how they are. If they respond in a clear coherent way and you feel safe, ask them what they might need from you.
- If they need shoes or clothing or socks, consider giving it to them. Ask them first. They may not need these things and you might be burdening them with more items for them to carry from spot to spot.
- If If they need food, give it to them. Or, tell them where the unity center is in Monrovia or other places where they can get food.
- Let let them tell you what they need. They probably don’t want to be there just as much as you don’t want them there
I got a lot of frown face reactions and angry reactions. People thought I was advocating that this person put herself in danger because she wasn’t a policeman or a train social worker.
The truth is, that every one of us has what is needed to end homelessness and human suffering in our neighbors. We need to use compassion and common sense. We need to think about how we can help other people even if that means that we have a little less for ourselves.
I’m not asking you to donate your heart while you’re still trying to live, I’m asking you to look for ways that you can meaningfully make a change. That might mean going into family shelters and reading to the kids. That might mean creating hygiene bags and handing them out. That might mean raising money for your local homeless shelter. That might mean sewing face masks for the project room key sites. That might mean collecting dog food and giving it to homeless shelters to give to the clients you have animals.
There are a thousand and one ways you can help someone who’s homeless and on the street under a blanket.
Calling the police on them because you don’t like to see them is definitely an option that you have. It is not an option that you should be proud of if you don’t try something else first.