Yesterday I wrote a blog here about being an at-risk homeless entrepreneur. In short, I shared that my car shut down while I was going 60 mph on the highway this weekend, we managed to get to the side of the road and within thirty minutes the car was gone.
You May Also Like: One Horrible Myth About Homelessness
The police took it. For three years (which I consider to be long-term homeless since the average life-span of homelessness is 3-4 months) this car was my house, carrying all of my belongings or providing a place for my daughter and I to sleep.
The world of being homeless is awful, and unless you have been homeless you have absolutely no idea how to combat the issue. Petula Dvorak of the Washington Post took a stab at it today, and while I am happy to find that there was an article written about the overcrowded make-shift shelter that is D.C. General Hospital, I am disappointed that she could not find one expert to talk about how to overcome homelessness.
Her article only made us aware that there are 600 young children who are homeless. She did not offer a call to action, and she even highlighted what most people without experience mention, that it’s the homeless person’s fault that they are homeless in the first place. So much for offering a solution.
In her article she somewhat contradicts her statement that,
No, this is not a world full of innocents. The D.C. General shelter is a showcase of bad decisions, social ills and generations of defeat. – Petula Dvorak, The Washington Post article “600 Homeless children in D.C. and no one seems to care”
She offered us examples of a married woman, and man who were working at McDonald’s and Walmart respectively when hours were cut and no benefits were offered. As I said yesterday, it makes no sense for me to go get a job for minimum wage because it will not solve my problem, and it does not prevent homelessness.
You May Also Like: Emergency: If you build it will they really come?
Housing prevents homelessness, and it has been proven that housing people actually saves the government boat loads of money. Homeless people are more likely to get employed once they are housed too.
The other thing I find disappointing about the article is that we don’t know the real demographic of the people who are in this shelter. How many of them have AIDS and can’t afford medicine? How many of them are suffering internally because of a mental illness, or other issues that can date back to being sexually abused?
Homelessness is deeper than the surface and I’m proud of the person who was too “embarrassed” as the writer stated to give their name. What benefit did they have to do so? Did you offer these people any kind of help when you wrote their story? Did you get them out of there?
What about the conditions of the shelter? Are there rats jumping over these children at night? And, why are we only concerned with the children? Are you intending to have some saviors come in and take these children from their parents?
An article friday said that D.C. is the most literate city in the United States. Are these people literate? One young woman you mentioned was a Howard University student. Did you offer her support in finding employment? I am clearly literate, and lack of capital mixed with other circumstances lead to my personal crisis. I lost my business, my home foreclosed and we were left with our car.
I do not see how the article in the Washington Post does anything to end homelessness, calling the community to action. It sounds more like gossip that will take place around the water cooler, and on social networks. If you read some of the comments below the article it will utterly disgust you.
Washington Post, before you decide to allow one of your “columnists” to write an article about the plight of homelessness, you need to make sure that the article does not make a mockery of the men and women that are being written about.
About 4 years ago I volunteered with an organization that was supporting women in the shelter at the former DC General Hospital. I am not a stranger to the area but could not find the shelter entrance on the campus that also houses DC Jail and other medical and mental health services.
After a few calls and directions I was lead across a parking lot and loading dock then behind a building to the women’s shelter entrance. The pathway behind the building led to a courtyard with one street light and a row of tinted glass windows and doors. Not a safe place for single, vulnerable women trying to get their lives back on track.
The shelter was housed in the former cafeteria. The glass doors were tinted but breakable by anyone intent on doing harm. There was a crack in the door and tape had been placed on it. When I entered the old, dark cafeteria I was stuck by the dozens of run down bunk beds shoved into such a small space.
I recall counting well over 50 bunk beds. The women were literally living on top of each other. There was less than two feet between each old bunk bed. The living arrangement was not welcoming, motivating, or safe.- Nicki Sanders, MSW The Teen Toolbox
At the end of the article contact information was offered. I don’t want to contact Petula Dvorak, because I already know that she ended her relationship with these hurting people when she received what was needed for her story. How do I help them? You did not offer a way for us to support them.
Tell me, why did it make sense to Petula Dvorak that the intake worker would be dumb enough to want the telephone number of an abusive boyfriend to verify the last residence of a homeless person? Does that not offer access to an individual who can be harmed or killed in a domestic violence dispute?
Sullivan said shelter officials wanted a list of everyone she’s lived with in the past three years before they’d let her and her baby in while it was snowing outside. So she gave them that and the intake counselors called those people — be they abusive boyfriends or angry landlords — “no less than 20 times.” – The Washington Post article “600 Homeless children in D.C. and no one seems to care”
Does that not offer personal information to someone who the victim fears could gain access to her? Even if the situation were not violent, most people don’t really want their ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend to know that they have fallen on disappointing times.
Homelessness is deeper than an article. I feel mocked and I want an apology. Washington DC is the home of the National Coalition for the Homeless. I am from here, and I am stationed here. All they had to do was google something related to homelessness, and it is very likely that one of my articles like One Horrible Myth About Homelessness would have come up as several have gone viral in the past.
You May Also Like: Homeless Heir to Founder of Las Vegas Fortune Dies
For those who care, there are many reasons why people become homeless. I have added a few links in this article for you to understand why and how people become homeless, and how to develop compassion in order to support them in overcoming their situation.
At DC General Hospital another article captured Mayor Vincent Gray’s thoughts in a statement:
The Legal Clinic reported that the General Hospital has had heat outages in many common areas and rooms since Christmas. “One client, who had an infant daughter, reported that she had been requesting a space heater from staff for three weeks to no avail,” the advocacy organization stated. She was not moved to a room with heat until the organization confronted city’s housing department about the problem.
Families have also reported that the building is “infested with mice, bedbugs, and water bugs. Some families also reported being bitten by spiders.”
This humanitarian catastrophe has been met by city officials with indifference and denial. Mayor Gray, questioned by Washington Post reporter Courtland Milloy about the Legal Clinic findings, declared, “I’m over at that shelter all the time, and I don’t think anybody can credibly say that we aren’t doing things to help the homeless.”
“I haven’t seen any bedbugs,” Gray said. “I’m always interacting with those young people over there and, frankly, I’ve never seen any evidence of what that advocacy group is talking about.” – World Socialist Website
If you are homeless and you need:
- someone to talk to,
- someone to walk you through overcoming homelessness,
- someone to find you alternative housing solutions
- someone to negotiate housing alternative that you have found
or something not listed here, this is my husband and my life’s work. We met in a homeless shelter. We have an extraordinary love story, meeting in an unthinkable place. We understand that no two homeless situations are the same, and whatever we can do to support you, we will. Later this year, we plan to officially launch the Rapha Response Group.
Rapha Response Group is a boutique agency offering an alternative shelter solution for homeless individuals seeking transitional housing. We offer a matchmaking service between an individual or family willing to foster hope, healing and temporary housing to homeless teens, veterans, individuals, and families.
We provide training to both the hosting individual or family on the nuances of homelessness, and training, support groups and individual supportive case work for the homeless individuals who we help find affordable and alternative housing. The host families receive a small stipend for their contribution to ending homelessness in their community.
If you are a person:
- with resources for homeless people and want to be added to our database, please connect with us at 202.717.7377 (RESS)
- with access to a larger platform to generate interest, connections, speaking opportunities or media to help end homelessness please call us at: 202.717.7377 (RESS)
Dvorak thought she was writing an article about those poor children who are homeless but she missed an opportunity to talk about why these people are there and how these people can be supported in overcoming the barriers that may keep them chronically homeless.
Ressurrection Graves is a child sexual abuse expert and H.E.A.L.E.R. She is an author and professional speaker on topics surrounding child sexual abuse and homelessness. She is available for speaking engagements and interviews by calling 202.717.7377 (RESS) or emailing: ressurrection dot wordpress at yahoo dot com.