To coin a phrase from the always inspiring & much-missed George Carlin – Homeless people are NOT home-less; they are house-less. Saying someone is homeless is insulting and it is a way to separate ourselves from the plight of another person. We all live on the same planet and this is our home. Our home is where we love and are loved, it is where we store our best memories and keep our hopes for the future. A house is something that we live in to keep out the extremes of the environment and store a lot of useless garbage in. A house is a material object and nothing more.
We all see house-lessness daily. Over the past 10 years (isn’t that always the magical number when it comes to expediting the New World Agenda?) however it has become increasingly in your face throughout the entire country and in no greater proportion than in the city I call home, Los Angeles.
My first glimpse at the traumatizing and isolating life of the houseless in Los Angeles was when I was working in the city of Santa Monica about 7 years ago. I got stopped at a traffic light and saw that to my right, sitting on the sidewalk in front of an extremely busy Coffee Bean, was a man I had seen many times before on the Santa Monica 3rd street promenade (an area notoriously crowded with wayward people). Someone had given him a coffee cake and he was sitting on the dirty cement eating it off the ground with both hands as if he hadn’t eaten in a week (and probably hadn’t). He was naked except for a loin cloth, was completely covered in filth and he looked drawn, sad and manic. The most disturbing part for me despite all of this was the fact that there was a steady stream of potential helpers walking by and around him (he was in the middle of the sidewalk) who did not even LOOK at him. It was at that moment that I realized the extent people will go to to avoid things. To be able to cast invisibility onto someone who is in dire need of help is to close off your heart and act only within the body-mind. (In my opinion we were especially raised to react in this way growing up in America, but that will be a topic for later discussion.)
To compound the houselessness problem, Los Angeles is unfortunately a city of the haves and the have-not’s. I have witnessed many city dwellers treat others like the thing they found on the bottom of their shoe. A city filled to the brim with egos, dreams of stardom and me-me-me attitudes it is NOT surprising in the least to me that according to the Homeless Health Care Los Angeles (HHCLA), Los Angeles is known as the “Homelessness Capitol of America”. I will always remember shortly after the experience in Santa Monica, walking through Westwood (also in West Los Angeles) on my way to another job location at the time. This job was located in an affluent/trendy section (Westwood is a pretty white-washed and snob-filled area in general) and I had to walk through a small promenade to get to the street it was on. As I was walking I heard screaming (literal SCREAMING at the top of their LUNGS). A middle aged, well dressed, white couple (they just so happened to be white but prejudice knows no color) with faces like demons were running after a homeless man and doing their best to force him out of “their city”. They were cursing at him and telling him he was worthless and disgusting and should not be there. The poor guy had no shoes, was wrapped in a dirty and soiled blanket and looked as though he had been subjected to the streets for quite a long time. He was trying desperately to escape to anywhere but had nowhere to go and thus was subjected to that torment while NO ONE else said anything to defend him against these disgusting people.
The least we can do as human beings (if NOTHING else) is to SAY SOMETHING when we witness cruelty.
Numbers reported from The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)‘s most recent every-other-year January Let’s Make Everybody Count! survey reveal:
There are 643,067 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States.
Of that number 238,110 are people in families & 404,957 are individuals.
Roughly 17% of the houseless population in America are chronically houseless. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness’s website, “Chronic homelessness is defined as long-term or repeated homelessness, often coupled with a disability. Many chronically homeless people have a serious mental illness like schizophrenia and/or an alcohol or drug addiction. Most people who experience chronic homelessness have been in treatment programs in the past and have still found themselves repeatedly homeless.”
12 percent of the homeless population, roughly 67,000 people – are veterans (however figures as high as 76,000 homeless veterans have been reported).
The National Alliance to End Homelessness’s website goes on to elaborate, “The Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently released a supplemental report to the 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress on veterans. The supplement estimated that 76,000 veterans experience homelessness on any given night.
This population is composed of veterans of different conflicts, ranging from World War II to the current conflicts. Though research indicates that those serving in the late Vietnam and post-Vietnam era are at greatest risk of homelessness, veterans returning from the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq often have severe disabilities that are known to be correlated with homelessness.” [I will be doing a later article specifically on the emotional, physiological and physical effects that current conflict soldiers are experiencing.]
A December 2010 NY Times article, Los Angeles Confronts Homelessness Reputation sites the following Los Angeles homelessness statistics:
48,000 people are living on the streets within Los Angeles
6,000 of these people are Veterans
A September 2011 TIMES.com article looks at homelessness and how unemployment and foreclosure rates are effecting those living within California. The article goes on to state, [CALIFORNIA’s] jobless rate hit 12% last month [October 2011], the second worst in the nation. A broader measure of unemployment — which also includes part-time workers and people outside the labor force who have been looking for a job — is 22% in California and 24% in Los Angeles, while the national average is only 16.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The impact on children has been brutal: since 2007, 7% of the state’s children have had a foreclosure process started on their homes [and it is probably even higher now, if not higher then], the fourth-highest level in the nation, according to a study released this month by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. [Since it is a TIMES.com article and TIMES is not a very truthful source (Illuminati-web) I, just for shits & giggles, looked up the Annie E Casey Foundation on ActivistCash.com. The Annie E Casey Foundation has given, between 1993 and 2005, $2,182,823.00 to the Tides Foundation & Tides Center. You can read all about it here. And if you don’t know what ActivistCash.com is or the Tides Foundation & Tides Center please read my earlier article here.]
All these statistics are great but if you live in this city or in California in general all you have to do is look outside to see that the houselessness problem is getting worse. Up until 3 months ago I used to take a train 2 1/2 hours north for work every day and every single day I would pass more and more lean-to’s along the train tracks. Some were amazing structures built in trees or in the cleft of the mountain. All housing individuals, families and friends who just need a little help.
& here is a FABULOUS picture article showing the one of the largest encampments in mainland America which is located near the camps I witnessed personally while riding the train.
So What Can We DO?
Everyone is evolving at their own rate & in situations which will best help their spiritual growth while on this planet. Who is anyone to judge the success or failures of another person – you do not know what their spiritual intent or journey is and thus you have no spectrum of “good” or “bad” as those are merely opinions of the ego anyhow. Even though we cannot energetically pick up others and raise their energy, we CAN DO SOMETHING instead of NOTHING. Many people are already doing it & you can either join them or think of your own way to help. Here are some groups who are already helping that I found within Los Angeles:
Burrito Project – Burrito Project is a group of friends that feeds the hungry and homeless in cities around the world, encouraging people “to get together with friends and build burritos to take to the streets”. Anyone can start a Burrito Project and the organization encourages everyone to help feed the hungry in their local communities. To date, there are over 30 Burrito Projects operating in communities across North America. The burrito process and organizing may differ from project to project, but all share the same mission. All ages and likes of people are welcomed to partake and contribute what they can. Find a Burrito Project near you or start your own!
Food on Foot – Food on Foot is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization (Tax-ID#31-1581053) dedicated to providing the poor and homeless of Los Angeles with nutritious meals, clothing, and assistance in the transition to employment and life off the streets. Food on Foot operates a weekly meal program every Sunday in Hollywood. Food on Foot began in March 1996 as one man’s response to the hunger he witnessed among the poor and homeless of Hollywood. What initially began as the distribution of meals from the trunk of a car has grown through the dedication of its volunteers and now serves more than 250 meals each week to homeless, disabled, elderly and low-income adults and children.
The Giving Spirit – Our format is simple. Your contributions allow us to purchase goods in bulk from discount stores, collect donated items from generous distributors and manufacturers, assemble and fill the bags with the help of volunteers and then distribute the bags directly to our homeless friends throughout this sprawling city.
Homeless.org.au – Wonderful reference for Los Angeles Shelters and Homelessness services
There are organizations and caring people EVERYWHERE and will definitely be where you live as well. Maybe volunteering somewhere isn’t your thing? There are still a lot of ways to help:
– Give your left-overs to the homeless (According to endhunger.org [a PHENOMENAL information source by the way] a study in 2004 shows that 40-50% of food ready for harvest in the USA gets WASTED every year. Not only do we waste food when we eat out but we do it daily in our own homes.)
– Ask your local favorite grocery store why they throw away perfectly good food by the POUND daily (I HIGHLY recommend watching this documentary about the rise of dumpster diving to combat the grotesque waste of perfectly good food that grocery stores [and most food places in general] waste daily: Dive The Film & read this awesome What You Can Do Guide to reduce food waste.)
– If you see a homeless person – GIVE THEM SOMETHING OR BUY THEM SOMETHING (This isn’t too hard to accomplish people: STEP 1 – drive around with bananas in your car or bottled water or an extra toothbrush or a pair of shoes. STEP 2 – See said homeless person on the corner, in a stairwell, sitting on a bench. STEP 3 – Pull up to said homeless person and GIVE THEM SOMETHING. If you are under the false impression that everyone living on the streets has a drug and / or alcohol problem, and then try to defend your serious lack of empathy by stating that this is the reason you don’t give homeless people anything – you, my friend, need a serious reality check. If you don’t want to give someone money because you think it will be spent on drugs and / or alcohol (not that it is your business what they do with the money you are GIVING to THEM) then don’t give them money, give them ANYTHING else – food, toiletries, shoes, blankets, a drawing, clothes, magazine, ANYTHING. Basically whatever you would need if you were living on the streets they also have need of.)
– Talk to a homeless person and ask them their name and to tell you a little bit about themselves (treat other people with kindness and as though they exist and the benefits to both of you will be overwhelming).
More than anything just becoming more aware of what is going on around you on a given day will begin to open up your heart to the needs of others. It is only when we stop ignoring and avoiding the unpleasantness that is staring us in the face that we can begin making the steps necessary towards eradicating the problem.
Be Safe All!