LETTER: Is there any hope for the homeless?

People who live on the streets, live in isolation. Their quality of life is greatly affected by the attitudes of the community.

People who live on the streets, live in isolation. Their quality of life is greatly affected by the attitudes of the communities in which they live, the decisions made by the government and provinces that govern them.

What decisions you may ask?

Well, there are the finances and the programs that you are forced to take to get help. You are forced to look for work when there is little or no work. There are the hurdles of applying for disability and then there are society’s negative beliefs and behaviours towards street people who may be addicts or mentally ill. These might be a few of the reasons people are homeless.

There are many more reasons and the homeless are of all ages from youth to seniors and even families at times. The homeless people are challenged as they live in poverty not by choice. They live life with little hope and there are a lot of people who are homeless because there is nowhere else to live. Rent is too high or people say “we don’t want them living here in our neighbourhood” because they are addicts or mentally ill.

People who are homeless seem to be on the outside. Someone who lives with psychosis or bipolar disorder shows the effects of being vulnerable. This leads to addiction, crime, violence, prostitution, demoralization, marginalization, poor self-esteem, low self-confidence, reduced motivation and less hope for the future.

You should sit and talk to some of the people who live on the street. They might seem angry or scary looking, yet 99 per cent of them have so much to give. They are loving people and given half the chance to have what the average Joe or Jane has, they would take it.

Thank God for the churches, missions and other organizations who help out. If you live in small communities you see a lot of couch surfing, and people living in tents; some don’t even have tents to sleep in, they just sleep outside. There are some shelters but not enough beds.  If you are lucky enough to get in to a shelter, you get a bed for up to 30 days, then back to the streets if you can’t find another option after your time is up.

There are food banks, soup kitchens, and drop-ins that help, but a lot of their needs are more than what a food bank can offer. Where do they go to get the help that is so much needed for them to be able to gain the self-esteem, self-love and self-respect that everyone deserves? How can they get to the point to  try and find a way to gain these things when our government has had so many cutbacks. If only those who make the cutbacks and judgements could walk in a homeless person’s shoes for more than a month.

Homeless people aren’t living, they strive just to exist every day. It’s hard even if they have a chance to change. If they get a place they may need help to change their lifestyle. Unfortunately there is very little respect given to a homeless person and if they can’t find a support, there is no hope for change.

Nothing changes if nothing changes.

Heather Baird