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A Closer Look at the Homeless

by Shanon Marie Norman 11 months ago in humanity

Will we ever solve the problem?

The issue of homelessness in America has disturbed me for a very long time. I was not raised to become homeless, yet it happened to me anyway. I was shocked and scared each time. When you get evicted from your home, it feels like you're a chicken with your head cut off and you're running around with your last breathe of life trying to figure out if there is a way for you to survive. It's truly horrible. Not all, but most homeless people suffer from drug addiction or mental illness or both. There are a few who simply got in trouble with the law and can not achieve employment because of that. Whatever the reason, the problem of homelessness in America is still occurring and it still disturbs me.

I have been homeless. I have mental illness and can not hold a job long enough to sustain the stable income required to pay the expensive rents or a mortgage. I have tried many times and failed. Most of the time when I was homeless I chose to go to a homeless shelter and allow the shelter authorities to help me. Sometimes I was blessed to have a family member or friend take me in until I could find another way. So how do people end up sleeping on the sidewalk or in a tent or in their cars? It's usually because they have chosen to do so. They are aware of the shelters, but they don't want to go to them. They've already been there and they don't like what they see or get there.

Some shelters are a lot like jail. If a homeless person has just been released from jail, the last place they want to go to is a shelter that reminds them of the place they were just freed from. So they scurry about hoping with some miracle of hope that they will find a place to live. It may not be sensible or logical to those of us who have a roof over our heads, but jail time can scar the mind. When I chose to live in a tent in the woods or in a rented storage closet, I had the option of going to a homeless shelter. I didn't take it. I didn't want to relinquish control over my life. I wanted to see what I could do on my own. The truth of the matter is that I couldn't do much. I didn't have enough money and I didn't have what I needed living in those conditions to improve myself or my lot.

I say I've been "homeless" for the past 4 years, but that's the completely true. I've had shelter as I've stayed at hotels, motels, shelters, and with family and friends. When I say I am "homeless" it's because I don't have my "own" home. A home where I am free to be me without some dictation of rules coming from the "homeowner". That is what the homeless are truly seeking. They are seeking freedom.

When you see a homeless pan handler on the street asking you for some money, you can donate or ignore. It's easy to say, "Get a job" or "Go to the homeless shelter" and walk away. But what you're really saying is "I don't care about your freedom, because I have mine." That's about as anti-American as you can be. You don't have to be a "sucker" with compassion to know that these homeless people need help. I've been trying with every thought and breathe in me to express the need for affordable housing. If America can not house people for the sake of their mental and physical health and for the sake of all people's freedoms, then they need to send them to another country who will and stop boasting that we are the land of the free and the home of the brave. We need to remove Emma's poem from the Statue of Liberty, until every single person in this country has a home and does not have to choose to live in a tent or on the sidewalk.

You don't have to donate to the poor or to the homeless. However, as an American (I believe) you should consider what freedom is and why you are seeing a homeless person wherever you are. You need to think about it or stop calling yourself an American.


Shanon Marie Norman

I am a graduate of USF with a degree in English Education. I worked in the food industry, office, and as a teacher. I'm now disabled and on a fixed income.


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