Realities of Homelessness

There is a case study in the New York Times today with a doctor outlining one man’s decent into homelessness – an injury followed by the loss of his job, his apartment, his friendships and relationships, the move to a shelter and the treatment for depression (who wouldn’t be).

He was inconvenienced, but not bested. Homelessness, as he saw it, was a temporary state. Sleeping in an assigned bed would do while he waited for public housing. Because of his years of work, he qualified for Social Security disability payments, and he had no reason to believe that the monthly stipend would not cover an apartment. He got himself on a list.

The list was long. After a year or so, he found himself drinking. It was a comfort he could not resist. Six months later, he got into a fight at the shelter — not his fault, he argues — and lost his permanent bed. He was barred from the shelter, and descended into the rougher layer of shelters, where drinking and drugs are commonplace, there is no daily shower and residents have to stand in line for a different bed each night.

He began to look blunted, blank. This is what two years without a key will do to a man. The medication was no help. You can’t live in an antidepressant bottle.

Now he talks of railroad tracks and the uselessness of human existence. Is a human life without hope, without social contact, still liveable? Perhaps the sadder question is whether this man’s passing would even be noticed.

It’s turning cold and Christmas is coming. Stop by The Homeless Guy‘s blog and find out what you can do to help, gift bags or backpacks.


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