If you haven’t had the opportunity or inclination to read any of my other many blogs about being homeless, I will give you a quick briefing: I’m a 49 year-old white female, college-educated former business owner and artist. I became homeless a year ago, and my blog chronicles the adventure from the beginning up until now (I’m still homeless). I didn’t become homeless as a result of mental illness, drug-addiction, alcoholism, or domestic violence. I became homeless as a result of a declining economy, just like millions of other American small-business owners. You’d be shocked to find out how fast your life can and will unravel after only two months of little-to-no income. If it could happen to me, it can happen to anyone.
I’m writing this installment in response to the many many letters I get from readers. I don’t have a lot of followers here on WordPress yet, so most of the mail I get is from outside sources like Craig’s List (I post in Rants ‘n Raves frequently). While most of the feedback I receive is positive and supportive, some of it is very angry. I often receive hateful and angry letters from other homeless people who feel that I am not “homeless enough” to speak for them. Of course I understand their point of view, and I have never once claimed to be worse off than any of the people who are sleeping on the streets. I have always been very upfront about that fact that I am “privileged” enough to live and sleep in a car, and I’m also blessed to live in Los Angeles where the temperatures never fall below 40 or 50 degrees (and yes we DO have winter here!). I suppose I am viewed by them as a “pampered hobo,” whatever the hell that means. An outcast is an outcast, as far as I’m concerned.
First and foremost, and I cannot stress this enough, this blog was never intended to be a vehicle in which to garner sympathy. Not. At. All. Instead, I intended it as a means to shine light on the homeless epidemic from a human point of view, in hopes to influence my readers (who are not homeless) to see the homeless in a compassionate way. My initial intentions were to show the world that homeless people are just like them, and what better way to do that than speak with an educated and rational voice? While I am painfully aware that I am not the “norm” in that many homeless people are indeed mentally ill, addicted, or disabled, I do speak for a very large and growing population of displaced and newly homeless people who are simply victims of a crashing economy, and are otherwise “normal” and mentally and physically competent enough to manage their lives if only given a chance.
While I have tried to explain it many times, I will say it again: sometimes the planets and stars have to align just perfectly in order to become homeless, such as the case with my life, and they certainly aligned with laser-precision to get me out of my home and my life and put my butt onto the street. Some of those combined factors (planets and stars) include not having a family to help in times of crisis, not having enough surviving friends left to help in said time of crisis (most of my “real” friends are no longer living), and not having a high enough credit rating to get a loan and/or to rent an apartment. I did not lose my home and business as a result of my bad choices or bad habits. I lost everything as a result of simply not being able to pay my rent for two months in a row. I lost everything by landing on the wrong Monopoly property, and when I couldn’t pay the price, I was wiped out and exiled from the game. As one of my oh-so sympathetic friends so aptly pointed out, it was just “my turn.”
So while I struggle and fight daily to regain my standing in society, and to continue to work enough to scrape and save money for a place to live, I occupy my otherwise burdened and terrified mind by writing a blog. I do it because I want other people to know what it’s really like to lose everything you knew and loved, and trade those things in for loneliness and starvation, sadness and regret, a burning desire for another chance, and live like you are on a camping trip you can never go home from. Of course I know I’m not going to change the way the world sees the homeless, but can’t I at least try? Can I not try to change the way even one person sees the homeless?
All noble intention aside, I do indeed have other motives. I want someone to HELP, Goddammit! Not just me, but everyone who is homeless. There is absolutely no excuse for millions of capable adults and helpless children to go without a home in a country with so many wealthy (and greedy) individuals and corporations. There is no excuse for so many to be homeless in a country that allows huge corporations and churches to get away with not paying taxes that would provide shelter for everyone within a few short years of taxation. No fucking excuse other than despicable Government greed. The homeless epidemic will not be solved by the Government, but it could be solved by generous individuals and businesses, and the first step in that process is to remove the stigma and shame, and shine a light on it. I have ideas how to do that, but I need to remedy my own situation first.
So yes, I have ulterior motives for writing this blog. I want just one of my readers to pass my blog to someone who can help. That someone will hopefully be an editor or publisher of a large platform, such as HuffPo or Buzzfeed, so that this blog (and others like it) can go viral and catch the attention of folks who could actually do something about it, even on a small scale. Wouldn’t it be nice if it was the topic of a well-known talk show? (Ellen, Dr. Phil, Oprah Special) Or a documentary that hasn’t already been done to death? Many people have produced great documentaries about the homeless, but how many of those have shown homelessness from the perspective of the “normal” person and not those who are “beyond help?” Everyone with eyeballs has seen those tear-jerking TV commercials about rescuing shelter animals, but why are there no TV commercials for homeless women and their babies? Don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE animal advocate. But why can’t we establish programs through which people can sponsor homeless families? Who knows what can come out of writing a blog like this, and I sure as hell am gonna try. Because it’s not about getting pity. It’s about teaching people how to have compassion for those who are really struggling to survive in one of the richest countries in the world, because their country won’t do a thing to help. Hell, if nothing else, maybe someone who sees it will give me a writing gig. Whatever the outcome, it’s always worth the effort.