Social Question

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

What is there that can be done to help the homeless in the US?

Asked by Hypocrisy_Central (21520 points ) May 28th, 2011

Not too long ago my fiancé and I were walking back to the bus after a meal when walking along a hiking trial (taking a short cut) we seen a man and a woman with what looked to be all they owned heaped upon 2 shopping carts, a baby stroller and anything else the could use that had wheels. That made me think, somewhere I seen there are an estimated 3,000,000 + homeless through out the US. Taking away those who do not care to be homeless what do we do with the rest who do not care to be homeless? The government doesn’t seem to have any money for them maybe because 3 wars are terribly expensive, what is there left for them?

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12 Answers

Hibernate's avatar

With stinky clothes no one will hire them.
Without a job they can’t get shelter and with no water they can’t wash themselves.
No one will want to stay near them.

There’s nothing to be done since nobody cares enough for them.

Funds cna be raised .. but you see .. nobody will give enough money.

marinelife's avatar

Many of the chronically homeless have mental health issues, but there is no way to enforce treatment.

We need a change in how we handle the mentally ill.

Many others have substance abuse problems.

We need a systematic way to deal with all of the homeless. Places where they can bathe and get basic medical care and food.

Then help with housing and jobs.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I remember when I was a kid that the federal and state governments tufted out loads of people from the mental health system. At the time, the idea was not only to save money, but was in line with the idea that mentally ill people should be taken care of in an outpatient fashion, re-integrated into their communities, and (though no one would say it out loud) that their families should have some hand in taking care of their people. Up until the late 70s, a lot of inpatient mental health facilities were near-Dickensian horror shows. Geraldo Rivera made his bones in the early 70s exposing conditions in these places, and the cry was that “something had to be done!”

Well. In the last 30 years, that’s meant the increase in homelessness. The vast majority of families in the US don’t have the financial and emotional resources to care for their chronically mentally ill members, who, in turn, self-medicate with drugs/alcohol and cannot hold down jobs or manage to function in socially-approved ways. We do have to reassess how to help mentally ill people – and without stigma.

There’ s still a huge stigma to being mentally ill in this country, and getting rid of that stigma might be the first step to helping those unfortunate people on the streets.

Cruiser's avatar

Leave them alone!

I would have never ever in my wildest thoughts imagined this but my boss’s nephew is homeless by choice and is the happiest person I have ever met. Him and his girlfriend travel from NY to Seattle twice a year based on weather. They eat well, sleep well, know all the ins and outs of living life for free and apparently so do thousands of others (or more). They stayed at my bosses house for a few days where of course he gave them their first bed in years to sleep on. What blew me away is they refused his offer of new clothes and were horrified when he washed their clothes that are held together with dental floss stitching as their outerwear is their meal ticket. Apparently you can’t get handouts looking good and smelling good.

They told me life on the lam is a beautiful thing and they wouldn’t trade it for all the tea in China!

WestRiverrat's avatar

There are enough programs and aid available that most of the chronically homeless in the US are homeless by choice.

Even small cities have at least one place the homeless can go to get a meal, a chance to clean their clothes, a shower and a bed.

HungryGuy's avatar

In the short term, not much except throw more money at social programs and private charities.

In the long term, do away with money entirely. I don’t just mean a cashless society, but rather no accounting of anything by any manner.

Instead, have robots, VonNeumann factories, and private 3D printers produce all possible goods that people need and want. Have fusion generators in every basement give everyone free unlimited electric power. Nobody need work for a living (except artists, writers, and musicians who do what they do for the love of it without payment). Not only will there be no homeless (except those as noted above who choose that lifestyle for whatever reason), but crime will totally vanish as well.

john65pennington's avatar

This is really a loaded question. I have dealt with many homeless people in my police career. I would help the homeless family with children, first before anyone else.

Some homeless people are really pitiful and some have made this a way of live for them, when they could work at some job.

Many homeless individual people are ex convicts and no one will hire them. I did not have much sympathy for them.

Most homeless people state they cannot find a job, because immigrants have taken them.

Many homeless individual people are cheaters and most deserve this status.

Many homeless individual people are well-educated.

Many aspects of a persons life, as you can see, can lead to being homeless.

Money is the name of the game. Most governments do not have money in their budget to support homeless people.

This situation is only going to get worse, not better. There is no solution.

laureth's avatar

Some folks (but I can’t believe all that many) are homeless by choice. The rest are not, and are homeless for any number of reasons (like job loss, foreclosure, mental illness, and addiction). I assume the OP isn’t talking about the people who are making a happy decision to live carefree.

incendiary_dan's avatar

First step would be to stop criminalizing it directly or indirectly. It doesn’t help the homeless and houseless to have cops constantly giving them shit and arresting them.

I’ve toyed with the idea of teaching the wilderness and survival skills I teach to homeless people. It won’t solve everything, but it’ll keep them from starving or freezing to death.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Cruiser That attitude is misguided. For one thing, read the whole question, it’s about the ones who don’t want to be there. A recent survey of the thousands of homeless here in our area indicated that most don’t want to be there. They are unemployable for many reasons, as stated above, and can only survive on hand outs. I believe public assistance is the best answer.
@WestRiverrat The public programs in our area are able to serve a few hundred of the thousands of people in need. Please do your research and you will find that type of attitude needs a major adjustment. This is not an attack against you, but against your apparent lack of knowledge about the subject.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@Cruiser They eat well, sleep well, know all the ins and outs of living life for free and apparently so do thousands of others (or more).

What blew me away is they refused his offer of new clothes and were horrified when he washed their clothes that are held together with dental floss stitching as their outerwear is their meal ticket. Apparently you can’t get handouts looking good and smelling good. I know homeless people now and in the past; some are even family members. Yes, there are some who just don’t want the responsibility of paying for garbage, electricity, a roof over head, utilities, etc. I knew this one guy who moved to Nevada to live with his G/F but left after 6 months because he lived on the streets (by choice) so long he felt cooped up in a room. He had his system down, he knew when the restaurants were disposing their “kitchen bags” and was right there to get it out of the dumpster. They even knew they would see him there. Strange enough this food they (the restaurant ) was about to toss out they could not hand to him because it was illegal, but it was illegal for them to toss it and have him eat it once it was considered garbage, riddle me that.

I guess how you are dressed and your success goes off the area you live. Homeless around here do not want to look grimy because they say it hurts their pan handling, they can’t look rich but they can’t be ragamuffins either.

@WestRiverrat There are enough programs and aid available that most of the chronically homeless in the US are homeless by choice.
Even small cities have at least one place the homeless can go to get a meal, a chance to clean their clothes, a shower and a bed.

I would gather most of the homeless are there not by choice, at least many I have had the chance to speak with. If you have a mental illness it is sort of a de facto choice because you have no faculties to choose better. A lot of the others got there because their home burned, they lost their job, housemates moved, or they were living with family that died leaving them to fend for themselves. They would rather not be homeless. Those that are or were homeless say it is better in a large city like LA, SF, Sacramento, etc because the small cities do not have the resources and are less tolerant to having poor homeless people around. Even if there happen to be a shelter, they are never large enough for everyone in need. They may have 60 beds but when you have 125 people needing them someone is left out.

@john65pennington Some homeless people are really pitiful and some have made this a way of live for them, when they could work at some job. I am speaking to those who got there unwillingly but find it hard to get out because they can’t acquire or hang on to the tools and goods that will help them out.

Many homeless individual people are ex convicts and no one will hire them. I did not have much sympathy for them. Then should they be called CNS (convicts not serving) and be treated as free-range wards of the state? If they can never have the “ex” in ex-con mean anything then why not have them still be cons and the state support them? At some point you have to give a person a second chance. Some don’t care or try hard enough but why would anyone try if the door is forever shut? (Though that is a question in its own right)

Money is the name of the game. Most governments do not have money in their budget to support homeless people. Strange the government don’t have enough to take care of its citizen here in need but whenever they want to start or fight a war they can crap money out the wazoo or find it in the sofa cushions no matter how expensive it is. Does that seem right?

I hate to say but in this area when a crime is committed against the homeless they are not quick to call the cops because the cops treat it as a nuisance to have to come out. The homeless I know say they feel more like the perp than the victim because they have to deal with the same cops harassing them or moving them from one area to another because someone didn’t want them were they were.

Cruiser's avatar

@YARNLADY I did read the WHOLE question and I stand by my answer. When I read the question body and saw….
“Taking away those who do not care to be homeless what do we do with the rest who do not care to be homeless?” I decided a story about a true homeless couple would be as relevant as the question begged….sorry if it it didn’t rise up to meet your expectations!! ;)

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