[Hpn] Re: Homelessness as choice

wch@vcn.com wch@vcn.com
Sat, 09 Dec 2000 10:53:00 +0700

First of all I have to admit that I have not read all the posts on this issue,
however, I agree with what Matt says regarding having the avenues available
if and when those who "choose" to be homeless decide to take one of these options
and leave homelessness.  Sometimes I wonder tho' if anyone really chooses this
-- even tho' they say they do -- since so often society is not willing to accept
people, any people, for who they are and where they are at the time they come
into contact with them.

What we try to do in our agency is accept people as they are when we meet them,
and not try and tell them what they need to do to get off the street, but rather
to hear what they have to say and what they may have for goals.  We try to encourage
them through our art and writing programs to learn to express themselves in
these non-violent ways, and thus get rid of some of the feelings they have about
society -- we have a Homeless Speakers Bureau and offer them opportunities to
go out and tell the rest of the world what homelessness is all about as far
as they are concerned and what they think needs to be done.

One of the big things is acceptance -- accepting people for where they are at
at the time you run into them -- don't look at them, as a lot of agencies do,
and say oh you're homeless, I know what you need to do to get  out of this situation.

Another problem with a lot of agencies is they have the same solution for everyone
-- and everyone is not the same and a solution for one person is not necessarily
a solution for another.

Maybe there are some people who really and truly choose homelessness, but I
wonder sometimes if they do, or they just say they do because they cannot relate
to society -- and society won't let them relate because society seems to think
it knows best when it does not.

We have found a big change in a lot of people just becasue we accept them for
who they are and where they are at when we see them and we don't tell them they
have to do this and that in order to use our day center and other services.

We listen to what they have to say, and try to encourage them to achieve what
they want to achieve not what we think they should achieve --

Maybe those that are homeless by choice are saying that and doing that because
every where they go people try to put them in the same mold with themselves
-- 9 to 5 jobs, etc. etc. etc.

Lots of very successful people are out there who do not live a 9-5 job, and
they achieve goals because they have been encouraged to go for what they want

Well, I am rambling -- but just maybe someone will figure out what I am trying
to say.

People need to be shown respect, encourage to go after thier goals for themselves,
and have opportunities present that they can take advantage of when their self-esteem,
confidence, etc. have grown to the level that they can say well, maybe that's
okay for you to do but here's what I am going to do -- and just figure if someone
puts them down its the other persons problem not theirs, and continue on.

Rambling agin.  Sorry.

Wyoming Coalition for the Homeless
P. O. Box 1232
Cheyenne, WY 82003-1232
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