Tag Archives: survival

Combining Food Stamps, Food Banks, and Soup Kitchens

Combining the resources of these public and private services may be a good idea:

1. If someone uses their food stamps to “buy” a hot meal at a soup kitchen, those facilities will be funded AND the homeless person will have a hot meal (hot meals are currently not allowed under food stamps ).

2. If people using the food banks and soup kitchens are required to have a food stamp card to get services, there would be a system to track the people getting food. Then cases where people who “double and triple dip” into the system will be discouraged and more people can be served. I know a man who has food stamps, disability checks and every day he eats 3 meals at the free feedings at shelters, etc. AND he goes to the food bank for snacks. He is 400 pounds, at least!

3. If people were at the food banks to assist the homeless in filling out applications for food stamps, there would not be cases where homeless people are falling through the cracks.

4. Food stamp fraud would be greatly reduced, because people would have only a portion of the amount they get in food stamps available for shopping at grocery stores. Maybe 20%. The rest they would have to get at food banks. No more people paying homeless drug addicts to use their food stamps. No more people buying junk food and unhealthy food on Uncle Sam’s dollar. No more steak and lobster on food stamps.

Sound good? Write your congressional representative or senator.


My Life In Storage

Just went by my old storage facility today. Glad I have a place now and don’t have to rent a locker any more. It is awful when you can’t get to something and then have to dig 5 feet in to get to a box with the stuff you need in it. Sometimes you just end up buying another one of the thing you can’t find, but know you have. I think storage places would be a great place for the VA to put brochures about their services. Lots of homeless vets use lockers. Just an idea.


You Don’t Have To Be Einstein

“You can not solve a problem with the same consciousness that caused it.” Einstein said.

I have noticed that in our city, the people most willing to “find solutions to the homeless problem” are in real estate or politicians from wealthy districts that are worried about the drop in property values.

Greed and materialism can not solve homelessness. Expanding the ideal of the American dream will. Not everyone wants or can afford a large home. We have to be given options. Making one bedroom homes and apartments as available and attractive to people who want to rent or buy would do low income people so much good and keep them off the street, but when greedy people want to only build castles and estates to sell to the highest bidder, that makes the cause of the poor that much more difficult.

Many of these low income people are employed in low paying jobs, such as health care workers, service workers, and part time job holders who are looking after a young child or elderly family member. Shall we punish people who are otherwise good human beings, because they can not pull down a $300,000 a year salary.

Changes have to be made. Not by the people who want to sweep homelessness under the rug to satisfy their own lust for big bucks. Elect public officials who will solve homelessness by correcting the inequities in the work place, instituting rent control, and building housing for the low income renter/buyer. And force them to ignore the clamor of  of real estate developers and city council members from wealthy districts, whose only aim is to become rich from selling to the rich.


Stats that tell only part of the story…

A few days ago a story ran on the news about how the city was finally getting rid of the tents around town, they were celebrating a victory. Then right after that a front page newspaper story announced how the mental illness issues and emergency room stays for the homeless were rising in the last 4 years. Now if people could put two and two together. Maybe the rise in mental illness among the homeless and the jump in emergency room costs are related to the “tents in the trash” programs (which, coincidentally, began around 4 years ago).

Another precious news story from just today: The homeless rates are going down from 2005 to now. If they would study the amount of homeless dying every year (which surely has risen) they might see the cause of the decline. As usual, public policy has chosen the low road to solving the problems of homelessness.


The good, the bad, and the perfect. Part 2

Believe it or not, part 1 was about the “perfect” people. Those who sense that homelessness will ever enter into their lives because they have everything set up just right. And as I mentioned, I have known quite a few homeless people who were brought up with that silver spoon and have become homeless. I have also known some really successful people who had confided that their child/grandchild is holding their life together by slender thread and the day the parent and benefactor passes on will be the start of a very uncertain future for that child/grandchild.

I am mentioning this only to illustrate that every person can be touched by homelessness. It doesn’t just happen to losers. No matter how perfect you think your life is, it is basically a lie if you believe that you are perfect. I don’t think we can be perfect in this world. But we can make it better by helping others.

I also have some ideas about the differences between the “good” and the “bad” people of this world. I was working in an office at a university a few years ago, and every so often one of the professors would come out and talk to me. He was deeply into self-flagellation and would bemoan his faults and mention his prozac use. Patiently I would listen and try not to add anything to his self-condemnation, but one day he was insistent. His fundamental question was “Don’t you agree that I am a bad person?” I looked up at him and told him that “There is enough bad in the good and good in the bad to make everyone pretty much equal.” I still believe that. Sure some people commit horrible crimes and I do believe that some people are just plain bad to the bone. But, that is a minority.

Most people, as bad as they seem, will risk their life to save a friend, go out of their way to help someone from ending up on the downward path that they have found themselves on, or help someone who asks for their help. Other people spend time polishing their image, but underneath it all is a shallow person that would take the last dime from a widow or orphan.

You never can tell on the surface, that is why I consider all people more or less equal and am an activist for changing the mind-set that people have about the homeless. But unfortunately, the people who believe that they are perfect and that everything they have is through their own efforts, are the hardest people to convince that homelessness can happen to anyone.

But I will tell you that is can happen to anyone. I have seen people from all walks of life in homeless shelters and on the streets. A special education teacher who lived in a tent. PhD’s expounding about physics at the dinner table in the shelter. A former singer that traveled the world and is now wearing bright colors panhandling on the street. Women so innocent, you wonder: Why are you here in a shelter? Men so fragile, that you wonder how they can still live each day with such pain.

As with racism and any other kind of prejudice, you err in judging the whole of a group by just a narrow segment with glaring faults. If people continue abusing people because of their homelessness; then, some very good people will be lost. And the people who are the abusers (the perfect people who have all their ducks in a row) will be as guilty of the pain of those people as the Nazis were in WWII. (BTW, the Nazi thought they were perfect, too.)


Struggling with the System

Most homeless people give up on their struggle with the system. I have seen this among people I know and feel it is a damn shame that they don’t stand up for themselves if they are right. The maze of paperwork and angry faces gets to them and they give up. If you need job training, housing, food, medical help, etc. don’t give up. But if you do ask for help, do the right thing and find a way to pull your own weight or help someone else if you are able. If you get a low-income housing unit, take care of it and don’t be an idiot blasting the stereo all night. If you get food from the food bank and don’t want/can’t use part of it, don’t throw it out, give some to a friend (or stranger!). If you get job training, do something with it. If you pound your fist on the table demanding help, be responsible after you get it. That’s all I have to say about that.


Kind Carpenter Helps Homeless Men Get Back On Their Feet…

Ideas to help are all around. We just need the courage to implement them.

Kindness Blog

Kind Carpenter

Georgia native Brian Preston lost his remodeling business, his house and the family cars when the recession hit back in 2008, but he never lost hope. The resilient builder came up with a new plan – to make furniture from reclaimed wood like dismantled barns and shipping palettes. He needed employees to start his venture and he found his first in an unusual place – living in the woods behind a shopping center. The homeless man had a story similar to Brian’s – he had been in the housing business and lost everything when the recession hit.

“I swore I would never come back,” Curtis said as he went again to the woods where he lived in a tent for ten months. He remembered the day he left the site for good: “It took me four trips to get all my stuff outta here.”

Curtis can now afford to rent…

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Homelessness

Love the pix.

A Project for Kindness

rich heart

I took my boys into New York City today.  Since The All-Star Game will be held at Citi Field this summer, there are painted apples all over the city representing all of the teams in the league.  We got to see 11 of the 35 apples today.  It was a fun and exhausting day but we had a really nice time, and the boys actually got along for MOST of the time.  It was a great way to spend our first day of summer vacation!

While we were there, we saw many homeless people on the streets.  Some were pan handling, some were sleeping and others were just trying to find some shade to keep cool on such a hot day.  This is something my boys have definitely seen before, but for some reason, the three of us really took notice of it today.  We saw a woman rummaging through…

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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.


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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