Somebody recently accused me of doing what I do just for attention and you know what? They’re absolutely right! I want to bring as much attention as possible to the reality of homelessness because that’s the only way to get rid of ignorance!
For those of you who don’t know, once you fall through the cracks and find yourself living out of a car, you will quickly discover just how much everyday things begin to eat away at your income. For instance, once you are degraded down to homelessness, you will spend more of whatever income you might still possess on gas and maintenance to make your only source of transportation and shelter last longer. If you don’t have friends who will let you come over to take a shower or do laundry, you will have to pay to access a laundromat, a hotel or showers at a public pool and there is no way around that unless you live in a rural area but even then, you gotta pay for gas to go somewhere to set up a camp shower.
If you’re a family living out of a car, then most of your income will probably be spent on childcare if both parents are working, not to mention healthcare costs, food and anything else your family needs on a daily basis. It’s worse if you are a single parent paying for everything yourself even while working two jobs, something I can more than speak about from experience. If there is one thing I’ve learned about being homeless, it’s that you can’t rely on false hope or have the expectation others will help you. You might get lucky here and there but the reality is…you’re on your own and you better hope your health stays intact the longer you’re stuck out here.
For all the studies so-called experts write, I find it curious that not one of them actually tracks how the poor survive on a daily basis and I’m not talking about via prostitution, drugs or violent crimes since you don’t have to be homeless to engage in those activities. Maybe that’s why so many policies fail. How do you even pretend to know how to end poverty when everyone’s situation is different? Also, the face of poverty is not the same as it used to be. People’s lives aren’t as simple as a printout of numbers on a report based off of somebody else’s statistics.
Maslow’s observations on the hierarchy of needs are very true when it comes to poverty. A person simply cannot focus on anything outside of immediate survival when most of their time is spent in trying to acquire basic necessities. Housing isn’t free and subsidized housing is becoming a pipe dream. Everybody likes to believe that education is the great equalizer but in reality it isn’t anymore. Think about it. In order to qualify for higher earning careers, a student must take on heavy debt to pay for an education (something grants can’t pay for on their own anymore since many colleges deliberately raise their costs making it almost impossible to go to college without taking on a loan). If and when a higher income is found in today’s economy, those paychecks will get eaten up paying back student loans in addition to the rising costs of living. In view of reality, how can we keep telling our young people to chase their dreams of a higher education that may or not be worth anything in the future?
For many, income will never be the same as wealth and the working poor already know this. You can have an income but what good is it if you still can’t pay for housing, healthcare, food, utilities, etc.? Everybody knows that the only thing that helps people help themselves is resources. You need resources for housing, education, healthcare, food and the list goes on. What we don’t need is endless vague waiting lists to be put on another waiting list. We also don’t need judgment that gets in the way of actually helping people. The ugly truth in America is that this country could end homelessness if it really wanted to. The problem is that ending poverty isn’t that much of a priority in this country. Maybe that’s because people don’t want to see an ugly reality that has always been there. I think it’s called being in denial.