According to Yahoo News, or News.com (I’m sure I found this by clicking on my Yahoo home page) it appears that a homeless man died of Hypothermia, who would have been heir to quite a throne of money, $19 Million before taxes of the $300 Million fortune.
I really do not like the way the news reports information. They are catching “the story” but they leave out intricate details like, why was he homeless in the first place. The only answer to this question eludes to mental illness in the last line of the article which states from his older brother Jerry, stating that he was “‘homeless essentially. If we had proper mental health services in this country, we could have been notified and known to do something.”
Proper mental health services? I am by no means endorsing the government system that is created to maintain one’s illness with prescription medications. I realize as a homeless spokesperson that there are staff members in homeless shelters and other agencies who may not support homeless men and women in a way that helps them to actually overcome homelessness.
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For this reason, my husband and I travel around the country on our Homeless Healing Tour. I train staff in various areas of child abuse protection, and supportive practices that reduce the revolving door in their shelters, helping the homeless to become housed citizens.
However, I have to ask this question, “when did his family realize that he was missing?” If this man was out of his family’s life for 20 years, living as a street homeless person, when did they realize that maybe they should go look for their sibling?
There is more to this story, and even people who are suffering mental illness do not wander off to become street homeless and die of hypothermia without first feeling that they could not reach out to their family, or their family feeling a sense of responsibility to go and get them out from the street.
And here is the million dollar question, according to the article:
Ms Clark had no children and in her will she left no money to her family, leaving it instead to her nurse, goddaughter, attorney, accountant, hospital, doctor, favorite museum and to an art foundation to be set up at her oceanfront estate in Santa Barbara, California.
Why would a woman whose great half-nephew (they put this in the article to try to create distance) who has been homeless or missing (because they could not find him to join their legal proceedings), die and leave her family including the homeless guy, nothing?
This is a great example of why and how people become homeless. I’m not interested in creating a story from thin air, but the lines between this story have created themselves enough for me to wonder when the news will ask the real question, “How do we encourage family harmony, to end homelessness?”
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We have no idea what would estrange this family, and I am not suggesting that we make a demand of the homeless heirs personal story. I do however believe we need to wake up and realize that homelessness can happen to anyone of us, or our family members.
There are many variations to our own personal stories. Perhaps the homeless guy did not want contact with his family. This doesn’t mean that the family couldn’t keep up with him, have phone numbers to shelters he went to, learn the geographical location of his tent (if he lived in one), so that they could buy him necessities that would keep him warm outside like a heater for his tent.
There are many ways to help the homeless. The homeless heir was homeless but he was in contact with someone. Someone at a church, soup kitchen etc, knew that he existed. You could send gift cards, food, donations to the church or place housing him asking (the person you develop rapport with) to look out for him.
Was he on medication? Did he have a caseworker? Family members are advocates for the most vulnerable homeless. There are programs and grants in place to house mentally ill homeless people.
This saddens me. Did he die alone? The article talks about his family who hasn’t seen him in 20 years but the truth is, a sixty year old man who is homeless has seen a lot and possesses wisdom. His name by the way was not “Homeless Heir,” his name was Timothy Henry Gray. The article I read does not clarify the life he lived, it just highlights how he died.
Ressurrection Graves is a child sexual abuse and homeless expert. She writes, and speaks professional on topics surrounding child sexual abuse prevention and adult homelessness. She is available for radio, television and speaking engagements nationally. She can be reached at: 202.717.7377 or by email at: ressurrection dot wordpress at yahoo dot com