Homeless People Struggle to Keep Their Dignity in Face of Injustices

Commentary by Jungle Lips

     I’ve been running away from home, or homeless since the age of 3. I always wanted to be homeless, until I actually had to be homeless. I used to see it as a way to be free. I still see a certain type of freedom, but I also see it as a kind of prison or punishment inflicted by society, for lack of opportunity, money, or responsibility. Being homeless is also quickly becoming illegal in many places. From homeless sweeps in Hawaii to Little Rock, Arkansas, homeless people who cannot or will not stay in shelters are being left with nowhere else to go.

    Locally, on the northeast corner of Superior and Ontario, business people sit and eat lunch, whereas homeless people sit to rest. Homeless people sitting there have been harassed by the police by for “littering,” (flicking cigarettes) while business-people doing the same are left alone.

   I’ve found that there are many institutions claiming to assist the homeless while seeming to keep them homeless. It seems they get a paycheck because there are homeless people and that the facility is present and available to end homelessness, but never utilized for fear of loss of a paycheck.

    I’ve seen many changes. If you’re going from friend to relative to shelter, and back again, you are no longer considered homeless by the government definition. And I’ve also seen more and more people falling into the poverty level of the economic brackets in our society.

    People now seem to grow more and more complacent with their surroundings, regardless of the quality of their surroundings. In another day and age, people would protest and become active against government policies. Whereas now (like people who are homeless) the activists have been beaten into submission and complacency by continually failing to taste the fruits of their efforts.

    For instance, a free clinic that opened in the 1970’s on Cornell Avenue to help people with drug and medical problems refused to take government money for a long time. When that free clinic started taking government funds, they were in essence, bought by the government, and the staff’s formerly enthusiastic political activism faded away.

    The truth be told, many people are poverty-stricken or homeless by the fruits of their own efforts. Many have tried to rise above that, but through programs designed to fail, they frequently either adapt to their surroundings, or fall through the cracks, many becoming apathetic or mentally ill.

    Being homeless and poor, I feel I have the liberty to say that some of us are crazy, but not all of us are lazy. We ALL still deserve our dignity, but most of us deserve it BACK!

   We’ve all been taught to escape through vacations, television, and various other means available in society. Some learn to escape reality through fantasy, some through drugs, both of which can become an addiction, in my opinion. However, if we don’t become addicted to liberty, it seems that we will continue our escapism and complacency, and never address reality. Addressing reality is absolutely essential to keep our liberties from eroding as quickly as they are.

Copyright NEOCH, The Homeless Grapevine #71, July 2005. All Rights Reserved.