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Rated: E · Essay · Community · #2319922
A look inside from someone who's been there
Everyone says that being homeless is horrible and I’m sure that it is for many. However, I was homeless for three years in a small city that thinks it’s a big city. It has an inflated ego to say the least. That said this is where I grew up and I love this place.

I have to admit that the worst part of it for me was the addict that I was with for seven years, both during and after being homeless. We won’t talk about him though. I’m still dealing with the PTSD that he caused and would rather not reopen wounds that it’s taken me years to heal.

I always said that if someone was homeless, my town was the place to be. There was a place that served breakfast and lunch and another one that served dinner. Both places served seven days a week, 365 days a year. If you went hungry it was your own fault or you were working during the hours that food was being served.

Living in tent city was actually nice sometimes. I was out in nature and for the first time that I can recall I found serenity when I was alone in my tent. It was the first time that I’d lived on my own.

I’d listen to the owls talk to each other every night. They were usually polite and spoke in turns, however there were times when I imagined that they were arguing over something important because they’d all talk at once.
In my area I had a skunk that I fed, at a distance of course, but if I sat outside of my tent quietly she would curl up under my chair and sleep. I just made sure not to make any quick moves. At night she would curl up to me if it was cold. Her outside the tent and me inside.

I only knew a few homeless people that were dirty or stinky. Most of us kept water in gallon jugs at our campsites that we used to wash off. The place that served breakfast and lunch also offered showers three days a week, which was nice in warm weather but really sucked when it was cold. I never had to use this service in winter because I was lucky enough to get into the shelter during that time. Okay that’s enough about me.

A big thing that could be done is if there is a "tent city" in a wooded area of your town, please don't cut the trees down and destroy the people's camps. Like it or not this is their home and their safe place. Also it keeps them from having to sleep on the streets and parks. After all, if you were suddenly to be thought of as a nuisance and your house was torn down you'd feel violated and vulnerable.

Now, as you can imagine I’m an advocate for the homeless. But there are things that I don’t think a lot of advocacy groups understand.

In a perfect world we would all live in houses or apartments but there are a lot of homeless people that have been given that opportunity and turned it down or tried living in a place and they are back out on the streets in a matter of weeks to a month or two.

A good portion of homeless people cannot function in what’s considered a normal society. There are various reasons for this. Some have mental disabilities; some have that combined with addictions of one sort or another. The hard truth is that not having bills that will eat up your drug money is preferrable. Some have just become used to this lifestyle and don’t have the desire to live in a house or apartment. I personally have known many homeless people like this.

Where the advocacy needs to focus isn’t so much on housing the homeless as it is providing services like my hometown offer. Food, medical care, both mental and physical, and yes more shelters. Especially during winter. True many of the people won’t take advantage of the shelters but there are many that will. We also need to have more family shelters because unfortunately there are more children that are homeless than most people realize.

Please don’t think that I’m saying I know all the solutions because any society is complex and has many facets. I’m just speaking from experiences that a lot of advocates have never been through. It’s just my personal opinion of how we can help instead of saving our fellow humans that are living a different life than we are.

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