I recently read the article on your experiences “living on the street” in Charleston…and that you were able to (in the end, after some apparent difficulty) obtain a truck (no make or model specified, no mention of sales tax, registration, reinstating of insurance, you know…all the little things you have to pay to have the privilege to drive, and your background applies here, I’ll explain later concerning credit.) You launched yourself into an apartment, got a job…good for you. It’s still not a realistic scenario for most homeless people…and I’ll tell you WHY.
It really rattled me when I read your story zooming up the charts on Digg, and there are a lot of things I’d like to point out, and one of the main points is this…I don’t believe your situation does not represent the situation of the average “homeless person” in the country. It’s not even CLOSE for several reasons. I know you probably don’t make that claim on SOME levels, but the results of your study are skewed by your personal circumstances.
I believe it harms the cause of advocating for services for the homeless in general., which are WOEFULLY inadequate in most areas of the country, especially in the face of a looming (now ongoing) economic crisis…this is a topic we will see revisited before all is said and done, I assure you.
Here’s something to consider…your study begins with you leaving college and (I’m going to assume) basically being debt-free and without a negative credit history…and that matters. I don’t care that you kept your credit card and your degree in your pocket. Many DECENT jobs in this country are awarded or NOT awarded to people based on their credit history. I’m going to take a wild leap (without even doing an investigation on statistics) and say most homeless people have SHIT for credit. Guess what that means? Insurance rates for automobiles are affected, and sometimes insurance medical insurance is denied outright by the companies with the big names and reasonable premiums.
As the majority of homeless people lack medical coverage they rely heavily on ER visits that end up on the credit bureau and most of them are lucky to be over a 400 FICO if you count all the damage that happened when they “dropped out” of polite society. ER visits also don’t do much for the chronic conditions that many homeless are usually afflicted with..everything from alcoholism and related maladies to AIDS and chronic diabetes. Many are so far gone in their mental condition that there’s a better chance of their feet rotting off than a good ole preventive checkup a few years hence might have spared them, but I digress..
Your study is also fails to acknowledge the time and transportations constraints the real homeless face daily. Alcohol and addiction recovery, antisocial or borderline personality issues, along with the numerous other physical disorders…all those appointments and programs take TIME away from homeless people that isn’t spent directing them towards a life of self-sufficiency, so their ability to launch from a homeless shelter, as you probably already KNOW from your experience there, would not be like yours or mine. There are MANY things that the DESCENT into homelessness does to a person…on an emotional, physical, fiscal, and mental level…none of this happened in your case.
In your case you entered into the situation VOLUNTARILY. How many homeless people made a singular CHOICE (and I don’t mean choices in general) but a singular CHOICE to be homeless? You made that choice, Adam. That changes everything. I spent some time on the street checking things out myself…but I didn’t go to a nice southern city with a good bus system and plenty of transitional living centers just to the immediate southwest of the city and I didn’t stay in shelters for the most part. But anyhow, that’s my story, not yours…lol…I digress. I also looked at it up close and personal, and by singular choice. I guess I’m just not quite as optimistic about the situation the homeless face, Adam. Hell most cities don’t even have decent shelters and what shelters they have are full and/or unfit to stay in. Many times I chose to sleep outside instead just to avoid the diseases and desperation. I was literally turned away in Youngstown, Ohio at an SA (Salvation Army) because I didn’t want to commit to a monthlong drug and alcohol treatment program, and all I wanted was to get out of the cold for a night or two. Anyhow, experiences on the street can be pretty different for most people and I’m sure yours gave you some unique insights.
However, as to your “success” story from rags to riches in 70 days… no big deal. You started out with nothing to lose in the first place, the pressure wasn’t on, and you didn’t have to provide for your own way. It’s not hard to sit in the shelter and save $300 a week (at LEAST that, working for any moving company) to boost yourself into self-sufficiency in 70 days when you have no outside issues (from a broken life) to deal with, Adam. With even $200 a week saved income a person can be back in the saddle in a few months time. It’s not hard to labor for a minimum wage paycheck when you pay no rent or utilities or insurance or food (and in most shelters all those things are fortunately gratis) …and it’s not hard when you’re only doing it for YOURSELF (and not a spouse or children.)
Adam…I think your story sucks. It was a good idea, but you didn’t “go there” bro. Not even close. Also, it doesn’t help when people perpetuate false claims of equal opportunity and access in this country in general. Again…what a nice STORY.