Homeless shouldn’t be judgedMonday, December 17, 2007 By Vanessa Ortiz
“Without a home of any kind.” This is the dictionary’s definition of homeless. My definition? Lazy bums who need to get a job. As ignorant as it seems that was, that is how I felt before I learned the true meaning of homelessness. To feel this way is not something to feel guilty about. I, like some people, see a dirty, scruffy, man holding a sign that reads “Homeless, spare change,” and the first thing that comes to my mind is “Lazy, just get a job.” The reaction expected out of children is to say “Poor man,” and then to feel sorry for him. Another reaction I have witnessed plenty of times is the “I won’t give them money because they will just use it for drugs.” We are human and we are allowed to have our judgment, but after getting the facts straight, the real facts, my opinion is not half what it used to be. “People can be homeless for many reasons other than the common substance abuse,” Edward Figueroa said, co-director of St. Mary’s Interfaith. “Loss of job, can’t afford house payment, financial medical problems, and domestic violence are other reasons.” If 80 percent of working individuals can’t afford a house, how is a mother, with three children, who just got out of an abusive relationship supposed to? An elderly person with a medical problem who has skyrocketing medical bills? Some of these people become temporarily homeless, homeless for a period, and then are able to get back on their feet. Others are not so lucky and instead turn to alcohol, drugs, or sometimes even both. The problem may even already exist, and trying to quit becomes harder when you have another problem in your head, being homeless. Help is also becoming more unattainable after the county closed abuse programs. The question “Why can’t he just get a job?” also becomes more complicated. Someone who is homeless does not have the tools that normal people like you and I have. If a homeless person manages to fill out an application, what phone number will they put down, what address? How will they present themselves in a professional manner when they do not have appropriate clothing, or good hygiene? If you were an employer would you hire someone who does not smile during their interview? Employers think “I don’t want someone who won’t interact with my customers,” Figueroa said. Homeless people aren’t just homeless. Unfortunate events happen in their lives, which makes living a lot harder. All they need, like anyone else, is help. So while they try to get jobs or recover instead of complaining, we need to help. “Eighty percent of the services provided by St. Mary’s Interfaith are due to help from the community,” Figueroa said. Whether you volunteer, donate items, or get the word out to the world, help is always welcomed. This way next time you see someone asking for financial help, you don’t have to call them homeless, but instead less fortunate.