Monthly Archives: June 2013

Help is just a phone call away at StreetLink

Good ideas that can be used in more places to help more people. — T.J.

Broadway Blogs

Words by Lisa Miller, a volunteer at the StreetLink rough sleeper referral line, in London.

Throughout me career, I’ve had the opportunity to live in Los Angeles and New York City, in the US, and in London, here in the UK.

And as jaded as I have become from years in the rat race, I’ve never got used to seeing rough sleepers on the streets as I rushed around town. Their relentless struggle to survive – on full public display – and my lack of power to offer any real help hits me like a kick in the gut. Indeed, the complexities of their needs are beyond my capabilities and comprehension.

All I do know is that everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home. 

Winter 2012 in London was especially brutal so I was thrilled to find out about StreetLink via a weblink that went viral on…

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Why some people turn from helping the homeless to becoming homeless bashers

When I first started writing this blog, I received a nice comment from a reader and decided to check out his blog. What I found was a person who started out as an activist for homeless people who had transformed into a homeless basher because of many frustrating experiences he had had in trying to reform the homeless.

Let us get one thing straight: Some homeless people will not change despite your tireless efforts. Some people are “career homeless”. Does that mean that you give up on everyone who is homeless and let them all die through sickness and starvation. No. This is America, for Christ’s sake. We consider all people to be of equal value. All homeless people are worth some effort to help, but they must also realize that they can and should do things in order to help themselves. This is where drugs (and booze) play a big part in keeping homeless people from striving for help. These chemicals anesthetize the user against the pain of sleeping on the sidewalk, the jeers of passers-by, the sense of right and wrong that keeps someone from stealing/selling their body/etc. for another day of existence. People who use drugs have a much harder time getting off the streets, and usually do not do so until they are near death with their health irreparably broken.

I have some friends that have chosen to be career homeless. I still accept them for who they are, although the thought of the last few hours of their lives is painful for me to think about. It most likely will be in some dark doorway on a cold night. They will be thinking of how everyone has abandoned them and how many chances they had to get help, but they threw those chances away because the offers were not “just right” for them.

The homeless bashers would have you have you believe that any economic or social assistance to homeless people is a waste of taxpayer money. I say, try to lend a hand to someone, but use the tools that the government has to monitor how that help is being used (or misused).  Don’t let them give their food stamp money to drug dealers (aren’t drug tests easy enough to do?) for example. Expect accountability. Expect some effort from the homeless person. The career homeless will scoff at being asked to do volunteer work in exchange for a hot meal, but those who really need the help, and appreciate it, won’t mind.

As a homeless helper, it is so easy to get into the trap of just giving, and not interacting, with the homeless. Overtime we see the scammers and overhear how they are bragging about the rip-offs they are perpetuating on the system. Then, slow by slow we become homeless bashers. Telling our friends what we observed and heard in the soup kitchen that we volunteer at, forgetting about the quiet person in the corner who was eating the meal and really needed your help and was grateful for it. When I was living in the shelter, I remember teens who were volunteering with their with various church groups and organizations, they would slip out cameras hidden in a bag or pocket and sneak pictures of various residents of the shelter. They had turned into homeless bashers, considering the shelter as their own private freakshow. They then went to their friends and family (or the internet) and used the pictures to ridicule those who were in the shelter.

When we help others, it is good for our souls, as well as those we serve. But some people who are homeless helpers do not realize that the effort they put out to help someone has to be tempered with: (1) the knowledge that some homeless people can not be saved from their downward spiral, and (2)ALL homeless people need to be able to keep their self-respect by being an active participant in their effort to end their life on the streets. If we keep those thoughts in mind, then maybe we all will not end up as frustrated homeless bashers.

I Have Just Read A Report On Homelessness In Our State.

The report said that 46% of homeless people here are life long residents. So much for that “they are all from out of town” theory. Yet, not one of our elected officials will dare to bring up the subject of rent control.

Joshua Duerk on Helping Those in Need of Housing

….”Though there are many helpful organizations, perhaps most important in the fight against homelessness is ensuring the availability of low-cost housing.” Ain’t that the truth! — T.J.

Joshua Duerk's WordPress Blog

With the steady increase in homelessness in America over the past two decades, the need for housing subsidy programs has become especially resonant. Maryland is no exception—Baltimore-Towson ranked 23rd in a survey of homelessness in America’s highest-populated metro areas. Fortunately, there are programs in existence that can help.

The federal government’s Housing Choice Voucher Program (Section 8) offers financial assistance in the form of vouchers to very low-income families and individuals, the disabled, and the elderly to help cover housing costs.

Another program, the state of Maryland’s Rental Allowance Program, provides grants to local governments, who then subsidize low-income or homeless individuals’ and families’ housing needs.

Baltimore-based Alliance, Inc. offers help to veterans who are either homeless or near homelessness by providing access to housing resources and financial assistance for permanent housing.

Though there are many helpful organizations, perhaps most important in the fight against homelessness is ensuring the availability…

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The C-Train and The Homeless Hero

I love to reblog up-beat stories about how some homeless people are indeed nice people and how most still consider themselves part of the human race. — T.J.

Livin' La V-La Yoga

A few days ago something very strange and magical happened. I started out the day feeling really high energy, really excited… about life, about creating, just generally jazzed. I was happily going about my day, when I had a dramatic shift in feeling. All that excitement just seemed to morph, to sink, into something completely different and not cool at all.

Worry. Anxiety. Those “You’re not good enough”, “Why bother creating something that you’re not sure will be perfection” types of thoughts from my judgmental friend that sits in the back of my mind and occasionally elbows her way to the forefront.

And so a morning of delight morphed into an afternoon of sulkery. I let myself wallow for an hour or so. However uncomfortable and pathetic-feeling, I still think its better to actually feel what I’m feeling, knowing that it will pass rather than brushing it off, sucking…

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Mind-Numbingly Stupid Rules

This brings back memories… — T.J.

Scott Andrew Hutchins

It’s bad enough that the shelters have a 10 PM curfew (or even earlier, if you’re bad behaved or unlucky), which is nonsensically vicious to give to a grown adult simply for being poor, but at Project Renewal, if you’re in bed at 10 PM but haven’t signed the bed roster when they bring it up, instead of letting you sign it on the spot, they send you downstairs to wait until it’s brought down. One staff member let people sign when he was up there, but he apparently got a lecture about it. The rule makes utterly no sense. On Monday night, I was so sick that I came back to the shelter a little after 7 and went to lie down. My intent was to get some rest, but get up and buy some dinner before the 10 PM curfew (bed signing begins at 8, and once you…

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The Nature of Need [guest]

Excerpt: …”Nouwen writes, “Our tendency is to run away from the painful realities or to try to change them as soon as possible. But cure without care makes us into rulers, controllers, manipulators,” rather than friends. “Cure without care makes us preoccupied with quick changes, impatient and unwilling to share each other’s burden.”

And so that is the spirit in which I try to engage our guests. Not coming with an arsenal of solutions, not really seeking a “cure” at all. But rather, trying to come as my most human, my most present, self. Coming close to listen. To cry with. To grieve and mourn loss. To celebrate victories. To share life. As a friend.” — Worth reading. T.J.

TheoCult Collective

This guest post is brought to you by Steffeny Feld, MSW. She did a year-long internship, and now works full-time, at a homeless resource center and shelter in Lebanon, PA called Lebanon HOPES (Helping Others by Providing Emergency Shelter). She brings joy and light and compassion to her work, but will be the first to tell you that it’s what she receives from the people she meets that is most profound to her.


I recently watched a video by The Work of the People that really got me thinking about the nature of poverty. For most of us, the term “poverty” brings up images that relate to a deficit of physical needs. But poverty is far more than a lack of resources.

(If you can spare 6 minutes, please use them to watch this prior to reading on. It’s worth it!)

In the video, Claudio Oliver poses a scenario: What would it…

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Illness in the Homeless Population

When I Googled Homeless and Illness… I get mental illness, but there are lots of diseases that homeless people suffer from. To confine the thought process to mental illness ranges from ridiculous to insulting. The worst thing about being sick and on the street (or even in a shelter) is that it is damn hard to get well again. I have seen so many homeless people tossed out from ER rooms on to the street… and even people with serious illnesses and cancer having to struggle in a shelter where some of the residents are mean to them. Is there a place that the homeless who are recently discharged from the hospital get to stay for a few days or weeks until they recover? Shouldn’t there be?

Check out this report:

Excerpt:  “more health care services designed to serve the homeless are clearly needed, since HCH programs do not meet the needs of the majority of homeless Americans.  In addition, lack of affordable housing complicates efforts to provide health care to homeless persons.  Housing is the first form of treatment for homeless people with medical problems, protecting against illness and making it possible for those who remain ill to recover.”

KeyBank volunteers help Millionair Club Charity workers with job hunting

Hey, great idea. Before serving the hot meal… help someone write a resume. (It is better to teach someone to fish then to just keep handing them fishes.) — T.J.

Updates and Success Stories from Millionair Club Charity

The Millionair Club Charity put KeyBank to work the morning of May 22, 2013 when 12 volunteers reported for duty as part of Key’s 23rd Annual Neighbors Make the Difference Day.

The KeyBank team met our program participants and provided job searching assistance – delivering resume tips, interview coaching and practice navigating online employment opportunities.

We help rebuild lives by providing job opportunities—daily work assignments, temporary jobs and permanent employment—to Seattle-area men and women seeking employment. We also provide essential wrap-around services, including connections to housing, hot meals, showers, laundry services, eye care and preventive medical care to support our workers’ success and help address unemployment and homelessness in our region.

“Thousands of men and women in our area are still affected by the recession and are looking for work,” said Jim Miller, executive director of the Millionair Club Charity. “It was great to have these business-savvy volunteers on hand…

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sometimes give yourself, not your stuff…

He was taking a chance with that 100, but I give him credit. 🙂 T.J.

posts from the path..

a-homeless-man-who-is-happy-to-be-aliveSo I sit down next to this homeless dude.

I ask him about his night and his life. He shares the human struggle.

As I get up to leave I have a hundred dollar bill in my pocket which in comparison to this guy means nothing to me.

I hand it to him- he holds it a second and hands it back.

“Man, thanks, really, but you gave me something way more valuable than that green paper”!

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