By Kim “Supermutt” Goodman
Nonprofit organizations and churches have a goal of helping those who are in need. Their service and hearts are in the right place but they don’t always help everyone who needs help. Many places offer opportunities for people to get their GED, help with higher education, help with job training and job placement, and help with housing and more. This is good for people who are mentally able to accept this type of help.
There are many success stories where people dropped out of school, got their GED and went to college, or went to a job-training center and found a job. There have been people who became addicted to drugs or alcohol and were helped through a rehab program. There have also been people with mental illnesses who entered the Mental Health Service system and were successful with it. But not all homeless people find success with the services that are offered.
Many people joined the military as young adults and made a career of it. They served their country and fought wars. Some lost body parts, injured themselves and experienced things that caused them to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Then after they retired from all the stress, they came home to suffer more.
Many veterans struggle to find housing and assistance for their needs. There are too many veterans and not enough services for them. Many are not physically or mentally able to get or keep a job so they end up on the street. Some veterans have a hard time dealing with life. The flashbacks from their military experiences along with facing the reality of not being able to live a comfortable life cause them more stress. Many turn to alcohol or drugs to ease their suffering and a few turn to suicide.
Another group of people who suffer are children who were involved in the foster care system. Many of these children were wither taken from their birth parents and placed in a children’s home or went from foster home to foster home until their 18th birthday. Once children turn 18 they are considered legal adults and are kicked out onto the streets to fend for themselves.
Those who are mentally able will usually go to Job Corps, a college with a dorm, or join the military to avoid the streets. But there are some who are unable to succeed at this because they have learning disabilities, mental illness or developmental delays that limit them.
Children who were abused and neglected in their homes by their parents and/or family often run away from home at a young age or stay until their parents or family kick them out. Many abused and neglected kids have undetected learning disabilities, development disabilities, mental illnesses or emotional disturbances. Many times they have some of the same feelings as those who were in the foster care system.
Both groups feel unlovable because they didn’t have the love of their parents or any special family member. Many feel unwanted because they were abused and/or neglected or passed around a lot. Many also feel inferior to those who have family who are there for them. They believe that the person with a family must be more loveable than they are because their family is there for them while no one cares enough to be there for them. Some may even wonder if they did something wrong to cause the abuse and/or neglect. Due to the abuse, neglect or abandonment many lack self-esteem and self-confidence. No one has taken the time to tell the person what is good about them.
Many feel emptiness in their heart because they have a lifetime of love to give and share but no one to share it with or they don’t know how to share it. Most are confused and frustrated because no one has taken the time to teach them the things they need to know to be successful. Now they are out in the world, uneducated about life, and expected to function as if they were properly educated.
It is hard for some people to succeed at getting their GED, a college degree or a job if they lack confidence in themselves. If you really think about it, the most successful people have a strong support system that stands behind them and has their backs.
There are people with mental illness who become part of the Mental Health Services system and get on SSI and get off the streets. The person is assigned a case manager who becomes their representative payee, and then uses the individual’s check from the government to pay the rent, bills, and provide a weekly allowance to the disabled individual. This works for some people but not for all. Some people are aware that they are not capable of managing their own money but they aren’t given the chance to see if they are good at money management or even offered classes on money management. Some people feel degraded by having someone in control of their lives, and would rather live on the street than in a place of their own being treated like a child. Some people put up with it but become more depressed because they feel inferior to their peers who live independently and manage their own finances.
Some people get their own place but have a hard time dealing with it. T them home might make them more frustrated or depressed because they were never taught how to maintain a home properly. The task of cooking, cleaning and organizing a home is easy for some but not for all. Some people feel alone in their own place feel more at home on the street. On the street there is always someone around for them to interact with but at home it is just them. Most don’t have a caring family member to drop by for a visit and some lack the social skills they need to make and keep a friend or mate,
Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and The Street Chronicle published June 2011 Cleveland, Ohio