[Hpn] Re: Homelessness as choice

HOBOMATT@aol.com HOBOMATT@aol.com
Sat, 09 Dec 2000 11:10:45 -0500 (EST)

<< And the truth is that the homeless, to a very large degree, simply do
 not want to reenter mainstream society.
The problem is the other two-
 thirds, and honestly I believe the figure is much higher than two-
 thirds, who do not want to get a nine-to-five job, and they do not want
 the burden of paying rent and utilities." >>

I would agree with this premise of Ted Hayes' that there are those who would 
chose to live "outside of our mainstream society". I storngly disagree that 
they are the majority of the homeless population. Here in Colorado Springs, 
my best estimate, based on regular interaction with homeless people in our 
city, is that 10 to 20 percent fit into that catagory. Even at those small 
percentages however, I do agree with Mr. Hayes' position that the funded 
helping agencies do not like to even acknowledge the existance of these 
individuals. They certainly do not fit the "poor, helpless victim" they like 
to portray the clientele they serve (especially at this holiday fund-raising 
Even within this small percentage, there are variations; ranging from very 
socialized gentlemen who harken to the hobos of old - clean camps, healthy 
lifestyle and no criminal behavior (other than squatting on someone's vacant 
land), to rather preditory groups of people who would rip off anyone, from 
"citizen" to fellow homeless person, for a pack of smokes. If we accept that 
there ARE such groups among the homeless, what is our response to them? 
Personally, my values are that people who "chose the lifestyle" fall into the 
same sort of catagory as Punks, Goths, outlaw bikers or Dead-heads. As a 
member of society, what do I owe such people? I believe that society owes 
folks who opt out of the mainstream very little. We do, however, owe these 
people avenues of escape if and when they do wish to "return to the fold".
Sort of like the attutude of a AA group several of my friends belong to: "If 
you want to drink and drug, that's your business. If you want to stop, it's 
ours' ". The "helping vs enabling" issue is a tough one. It's too bad the 
agencies tend to shy away from such discussion.
Matt Parkhouse, RN;
Colorado Springs, CO