"A sense of independence carried to an almost pathological extreme"

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I think Dan Paden has this exactly right:

The real issue when it comes to the hard-core homeless is this: a sense of independence carried to an almost pathological extreme, such that eventually, one has no friends, no relatives, no support network, or at least none of these that are willing to help. Imagine, you who belong to a thriving church, who thrive on close family connections, being out of work and not having anyone who will tip you off to an opportunity in their company, no one who will recommend you to anyone, no one who will take phone calls for you, no one who will so much as let you sleep in their garage while you beat the streets looking for work--and that you'd rather have it that way than put up with the way that they want you to do things, rather than have to listen to their advice.

Social capital may be more important to survival and success than financial capital. I think about all the help we've had over the years from family, friends, fellow church members, and political allies.

For example, we have in our home an impressive amount of baby clothing, equipment, and toys for which we didn't pay. Some of them were gifts, but most of them are loaners. There's a $200 baby hammock -- never would have spent the money for it, but someone in our church had one, their baby had grown out of it, and they were happy to lend it to us for a few months. When our baby has grown out of it, we'll give it back, and the owners will likely pass it along to another church family with a new baby.

You don't get that kind of help unless other people feel they know you and can trust you, and you build that kind of knowledge and trust by being faithfully and consistently involved with other people over a long period of time, helping others with what you have to offer.

In order to build social capital, you have to do some things even when you don't feel like doing them. You have to avoid speaking your mind when it might be hurtful. You have to try not to burn bridges, even when you really want to. And when you do screw up and burn bridges, you try to rebuild them, even if it means eating your words.

I'm reminded of C. S. Lewis's depiction of the Grey Town in The Great Divorce. Because its residents could build a new place to live just by willing it into being, people would part company over the most minor offences, moving further and further away from each other. No interdependence, no community, complete autonomy. (The Grey Town, as it turned out, was Hell.)


Dan Paden said:

Kind words are always appreciated. Thanks!

W. Author Profile Page said:

So ... what do you propose as a solution for this problem?

Paul Tay said:

When I was doing principal photography for a documentary, "Homeless For The Holiday," I met more than a few veterans on the road. When asked a really stoooopid question, "What's it like to be homeless?" The reply: Homeless? I dunno whatcha talkin' 'bout. I am home. It all depends on your POV. So, I actually lived as if I did not have a permenant address for some nine days. I ate three meals a day, updated my blog at the library, panhandled all over town, and slept in clean bunk beds every night. Salvation Army requires everyone to shower before going to bed. Though I might have brought some ear plugs to drown out the constant snoring. It was not such a bad experience. One could act crazy, silly or drunk, maybe even impersonate Santa. And, no one would actually think any worse of one. Well, except maybe for the cops, if one did a very good job acting drunk. Public intox is illegal, even if one choose to avoid DUI and walk home. (hic) I am looking forward to getting more footage for the documentary this Christmas. Hopefully, there will be snow. With the Internet, an enterprising chap could probably establish a viable business, have quite a diverse social life, and maybe even run for public office, all without a permenant address. JUST DON'T DRINK DA 'SHINE.

susan said:

Some of the homeless do try to take advantage. A couple of years ago a businessman offered the people jobs that stood on popular streets that held signs "will work for food --will work for money". None took his offer to work for money. He owned a business that offered a variety of jobs. They refused to work and just wanted cash. Some realize this is a business you can make quick cash and pay no income tax. One guy used to stand right next the the light signal and try to hold up traffic so he would have more time to beg for money.

There is the other temporary homeless that are down on their luck and usually thankful for any help to get back on their feet.

About a year ago the Tulsa World newspaper put a person's picture in the important news "A" section of the Tulsa World news. A homeless man had checked in to a downtown hospital and falsely accused this innocent hospital worker of touchinghim inappropriately.

The Tulsa World newspaper never bothered to check out the real facts on this homeless man that accused this innocent downtown hospital worker.

The innocent hospital worker lost his job over this false accusation from this hospital worker and it must have been a seriously slow news day to put this story in the "A" section of the Tulsa World newspaper -- a paper that should check out FACTS before putting someone's picture and implying this hospital worker had done something wrong. Also how slow are news stories when a downtown hospital gives a story like this to the Tulsa World newspaper. Would the Tulsa World ever think to put a complete full name with a photo and story when the innocent downtown hospital worker was cleared of all charges a year later. The Tulsa World never bothered putting that in the "A" section.

Mike said:

Michael (and Dan)--you make several good points. For the past six years, I have served on a review committee that interviews, ranks and recommends agencies for HUD funding on the order of $2,000,000 annually, for providing permanent and transitional housing, and support services to Tulsa's homeless. I have learned during that time that at least half (probably more) of our homeless population suffers from mental illness, and many are "dually-diagnosed", meaning they are chemically-dependent, in addition to having a mental illness.

In my opinion, the best long-term potential solution (this is for you, W) rests with the Mental Health Assocation in Tulsa. They will soon have over 130 permanent housing units available, and they are providing outstanding service to the mentally-ill homeless in our community.

May God continue to bless and anoint the Mental Health Association in Tulsa, The Salvation Army, the Day Center for the Homeless, and all the other organizations that remain committed to this segment of our population.

susan said:

The homeless should be tracked. For example, this homeless man that checked into this downtown hospital and accused a hospital staff employee of touching him inappropriately. The hospital never bothered to "track" this homeless man as far as what his real name was, if the homeless man should be convicted of perjury --before firing the innocent hospital employee. The hospital worker was a father, had children and a reputation of working many years in health care. His full name and picture was put in the Tulsa World newspaper. The "A" section is considered top news. Would you consider something that has NOT been proven "A" section news?

Can you imagine the damage if homeless people would get away with this scam this man tried to pull?

Yes, they want the instant cash people give them for drugs and to drink, etc. -- they are provided food for free but they can't get what they are addicted to that only makes their HEALTH AND MENTAL abilities worse. You give them a new sleeping bag and they will sell it to buy what they are addicted to.

John 3:16 mission is definitely a mission that actually tries to help. I hope the $2,000,000.00 gives generously as in the news John 3:16 has
said they could use more financial help for this downtown service agency to the needy.

sbtulsa said:

a solution for homelessness is nearly impossible except that local institutions provide the network to plug people back in to society. i speak mainly of churches. first get them a job and a means to ge to the job.

almost hate to say this, but here's an example of the unitended consequences of our border problem with mexico. illegal immigrants take up jobs some of the homeless could be doing, at least those that in possession of their faculties (not mentally ill or in some way unemployable).

would not want a government program here but we could corrdinate efforts better.

mary said:

Sometimes members of one's social network are verbally abusive, back stabbers, and heartless individuals. Perhaps some of those hard core homeless were the victims, not the cause of becoming socially bankrupt.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 29, 2006 12:28 AM.

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