Re: Homeless refuse shelter only because they want to drink & drug?

Wolfie =^..^= (
Fri, 06 Nov 1998 03:07:38 -0800

Tom Boland wrote:

> The article below states that most homeless people who refuse shelter do so
> because they want to drink, do drugs and avoid mandatory showers.
> Do you agree?  Why or why not?

Well, speaking from my own experience when I was homeless, I would have to
disagree. In the city where I was at, the shelters were actually considered to be
worse than being on the streets! Anything you had would be stolen when you slept
(in the shelter) and it wasn't unheard of to get raped or beaten up in a shelter.
Not to mention the fact that there are just not enough shelters and the few times I
may have stayed in one, it was full to capacity! There are some other issues I
would like to address and please forgive me if I am not very eloquent with words.
This article does not take into account mental illness. There are many forms that
mental illness takes. For instance, some people are especially fearful of strangers
and they keep to themselves as much as possible. What could be scarier for someone
like that  than the prospect of staying in a strange place full of people they do
not know?? Their needs cannot be adequately met by the typical shelter. As for drug
and alcohol addiciton, yes, there are many homeless people who are addicts, but
many of them are like me and where self medicating due to an undiagnosed disease.
It bothers me that people with addictions are being portrayed as people who are in
control of what they are doing and are doing it just for the hell of it! There is
obviously no understanding at all of mental illness and addiction issues by the
author of this article. This just serves to perpetuate the myth of homeless people
being irresponsible, lazy bums who want society to take care of them while they
have fun getting drunk and doing drugs. In the years I was homeless, I did not meet
one single person who fit into this stereotype. NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON. And I knew a
lot of people! I also know that in my area, the number of homeless people compared
to the number of shelter beds is ridiculous. It also bothers me that the shelters
have limits on how long people can stay there. I had a friend who went to a shelter
and after 4 nights, they told her she had to leave. She begged them to let her stay
but they refused. That night she was brutally raped and murdered.