Something I have been reminded about time and time again over the past year is choices. We all make choices, each and every day, and the choices we make have a HUGE outcome on our lives. It is fine and well for us to say that homelessness is horrible, and it is, but yesterday I spoke with someone who despite having been given a house, chose to stay at the shelter because that is where he felt connection and a sense of "home". Choices.
Last night I had multiple people beg me for food. See here's the thing though, we give out food right when the shelter opens, if you come later then that, no food, because once it's gone, it's gone. So, if you have spent the day/evening drinking rather than taking advantage of the abundance of free food in the city, I don't necessarily feel sorry for you. Choices.
Now, the above being said, I also recognize that once you're on the street, the choices aren't that easy. Addictions aren't exactly easy to break. To use an example from my life, the fact that I'm overweight didn't stop me from eating cookies yesterday, even though I know I probably didn't need to. And that's cookies. I can't even imagine trying to come off years of hard drinking. Then of course, there's the added challenge of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. In some cases, people's brains simply don't allow them to learn from their mistakes, so they make the same "poor" choices again and again. Mental Illness figures in, blackouts from substance use, peer pressure and involvement, low self esteem, self efficacy and little motivation for change.
So, while I will continue to advocate for funding and services for the homeless and near homeless, there is no way I can believe that is 100% someone else's fault. There are resources out there for those who seek them, there is food out there for the hungry homeless, and there are places of safety for those who need a break from life. I do truly believe there is more we can do, that the are clinical best practices we are most certainly not following, however I think I believe that there will always be homelessness, no matter what social net we put in place.
not a very happy holiday post.