Nov 16 2010

It seems many homeless people have pets to
cuddle for mutual warmth and comfort.

Homeless. If you live in any kind of urban setting, you must have seen homeless people. People who live on the streets, trying to figure out how to survive another day obtaining the basics of food, water and shelter. The indigent poor and the “by choice” freedom seekers: there have always been those who lived outside of society’s demands for a regular job. There have always been those that preferred the freedom to choose a living experience, even if that selection lacked security and comfort. Now, however, the numbers have increased significantly and the face of homeless people has changed. In addition to those who might be considered a little off beat, we find families with children experiencing urban survival in its rawest form.

Homeless is like old age. You can’t begin to know what it is like until you have experienced it, stared it in the face and realized, up close and personal, it has happened to you. Homeless is something that happens to others, until you realize, putting two and two together, that with the mortgage crisis, you are just a stone’s throw away yourself. Not a pleasant feeling. And the belief that friends and family will sustain you in your crisis lasts only as long as the last phone call telling you they have problems of their own and “can’t help right now, maybe later.”

The prospect is startling. The realization daunting and the means to remedy the situation can be illusive and far in the future. Where at one time, I, myself, would have thought homeless people unconditionally mentally ill, without direction and just plain “should have planned better,” now I have a compassion that daily reminds me, “There, but for the grace of G-d, go I.”

In today’s economic climate, it is good to consider the possibility of being homeless, yourself. Whereas, in better times, it was pro-active to plan for only vacations and retirement, now it is also prudent to examine the “what if” of being without shelter or the means to feed oneself and one’s family. Even if your mortgage is paid in full, the possibility of bio-hazards and social upheavals cycle the options closer than ever before. It is better to think of solutions and alternatives before you need them and figure you never will, than the other way around. As my Marine husband was taught in Boot Camp at Parris Island, S.C.: “It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”

With all of this in mind, why not examine the situation for yourself, as it relates to you? And, for those of you who can relate, all too well, to what I am talking about, let this be your guide that you are not alone and have a compassionate ear leaning toward you. Discussing possibilities and options will familiarize you with realities while leaving you better prepared, should things turn out unpleasantly.

For an introduction, here is The Shelters and Soup Kitchens Directory listing facilities in the United States offering aid and sustenance to those who need it. You will surely find a facility near you. And, now being proactive about your own possible homelessness, you might want to consider donating goods, services, time or money to insure life saving options are there, should you ever need them.

A compassionate trucker interviews a homeless couple.

To preview this moving book, hover your mouse over this link:

The Visible Poor: Homelessness in the United States

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