Are We Enabling Families with Rental Assistance?

Commentary by Samaylah Hardy Moore

When I was asked to write about my experiences with being homeless I said to myself, “How I feel is:  there are entirely too many people that are homeless.” Some are self-induced; others are homeless just the economy. Housing being found for those that don’t have children, or receive a monthly check is even harder. The way the housing programs seem to work is that if you have children you meet the criteria for a lot more programs and those that don’t have kids are stuck. If you get a government check, it’s way easier because it has been declared by our system that you are a special case, being disabled(mentally or physically). Our homeless shelters and housing programs coddle these individuals. I believe that they are enabling them. In my experience, most of those that have children or a disability check due to mental instability are more likely to return to the shelter, because they choose to do other things with their money.

I’ve been homeless off and on for about two years. It’s hard trying to find a job even if you have degrees. I have three degrees. Most of the jobs that I’ve applied for say that I’m over qualified for the position. And I’ve been resorted to doing temporary work through Minute Man or Labor Ready. These types of jobs don’t get you qualified for housing because it’s not a steady job, even if you have been being sent to the same site for 6 months to a year or more. It makes me upset that our city, federal, state, and even country’s politicians don’t care. The only time they show concern is when it’s time for re-election. Afterward, it was like a fart in the wind. Not every homeless person is the man outside begging for spare change or the woman pushing a grocery cart up the street. There are young adults as young as 18 in a shelter now because finances are low. There are people in shelters that have jobs and a car, but not enough money, to afford rent. No program is offering housing for those with no income except for drug rehabilitation centers. I feel as though something does have to change.

I applied for C.M.H.A. and as of June 4, 2013 it will be 4 years that I’ve been on this list. No response, no nothing. All my information is the same; when I call they say the same thing,” We haven’t gotten to you yet.” It’s very frustrating to have to go through all these hurdles while being homeless. Being in a shelter isn’t any easier. Some of the staff shouldn’t work where they are because of their attitude. A few of the residents could, and can be an issue while you’re there. Hygiene is another issue, especially when the shelter states that they can’t force a person to bathe. Some caseworkers don't do their job. Caseworkers are there for you to get answers and help you find housing or programs, not just forcing you to do all the groundwork.  And if you don’t know where to go , they have some real snide remarks for you.

I truly believe that if we had more work to housing programs the homeless epidemic wouldn’t be so bad. Even though some individuals enjoy living this way, others like me feel like the world has turned their back on us. How can we better ourselves as a community when we don’t have the resources? Homelessness has been an issue for a very long time but it’s totally out of control now. They country needs to read this story and decide to do something for the little people instead of the wealthy.

Copyright NEOCH and Street Chronicle May 2013, Cleveland, Ohio