Positions of Student Participants


Richard Andrade
University of Tennessee-Martin
richardportugal@hotmail.com

Les SDF du Venezuela

Il y a beaucoup de personnes sans-abri et sans domicile fixe dans tout le monde, et spécifiquement dans les pays sous-développés.

Je vais me concentrer sur les jeunes qui vivent dans les rues du Venezuela. Le gouvernement calcule qu'il y a 2000 jeunes qui sont sans-abri sur les trottoirs de Caracas et 7500 dans le territoire national. Nous appelons ces jeunes 'les jeunes de la rue', et ils sont tous ceux qui ont rompu totalement leurs liens familiaux, et qui n'ont pas de foyer.

Cependant, il y a 1100000 qui déambulent sur les rues en travaillant dans l'économie informelle, mais ils ont un foyer. En plus, il y a 200000 jeunes qui développent activités marginales pour avoir de l'argent. Ceux-ci pratiquent la mendicité, le larcin, et la prostitution.

On voit clairement que les nombres des 'jeunes de la rue' peuvent augmenter si ceux qui ont un foyer instable et un travail informel le perdent. Je considère que le gouvernement doit mettre en action nouvelle programmes économiques et sociaux pour aider les jeunes qui sont dans l'économie informelle. Par exemple, études techniques gratuites adressées particulierment à ces jeunes sans aucune possibilité de réussir professionnellement peuvent faire qu'ils sortent de l'économie informelle. Il est aussi nécessaire que le gouvernement garantisse à ces jeunes des emplois dans les compagnies publiques ou privées.

A mon avis, l'objectif des fondations privés doit être d'aider les 'jeunes de la rue' parce qu'ils ont de l'expérience d'avoir travaille depuis longtemps avec eux. Au contraire, le gouvernement, comme j'ai dit antérieurement, doit se préoccuper des jeunes qui travaillent dans l'économie informelle.

______________________


Existen muchas personas sin hogar y sin un domicilio fijo por todo el mundo, y específicamente en los países subdesarrollados.

Yo me voy a concentrar en los jóvenes que viven en las calles de Venezuela. El gobierno calcula que hay dos mil jóvenes que se encuentran sin hogar en las aceras de Caracas y siete mil quinientos en el territorio nacional. Nosotros llamamos estos jóvenes "los niños de la calle" y son todos aquellos que han roto totalmente sus lazos familiares y que no tienen un hogar.

Sin embargo, existen un millón cien mil que deambulan sobre las calles trabajando en la economía informal, pero tienen un hogar. Además, existen doscientos mil jóvenes que desarrollan actividades margínales para obtener algo de dinero. Estos practican la mendicidad, el hurto, y la prostitución.

Se puede ver claramente que el número de "niños de la calle" puede aumentar si éstos que tienen un hogar inestable y un trabajo informal lo pierden. Yo considero que el gobierno debe poner en acción nuevos programas económicos y sociales para ayudar a los jóvenes que están en la economía informal. Por ejemplo, estudios técnicos gratuitos dirigidos particularmente a estos jóvenes, sin ninguna posibilidad de salir adelante profesionalmente, pueden hacer que ellos salgan de la economía informal. Es necesario también que el gobierno garantice a éstos jóvenes empleos en compañías públicas y privadas.

En mi punto de vista, el objetivo de las fundaciones privadas debe ser el de ayudar a los "niños de la calle" porque ellos tienen la experiencia de haber trabajado con ellos por largo tiempo. Al contrario, el gobierno, como he dicho anteriormente, debe preocuparse de los jóvenes que trabajan en la economía informal.



Georgina Argaez
University of Tennessee-Martin
geoyarga@mars.utm.edu

I have different positions towards homelessness depending on the case. I strongly believe that there should be very strong support from the government when it comes to homeless kids; and not just support from the government but from different organizations. I think that homeless kids is the case I find the most interest since it is a very big issue in my country. There are plenty of reasons why there are homeless kids, and we have to realize that their homelessness will affect us sooner or later. Living in the streets shows individuals the easy ways of getting what wanted and needed, and that is through crimes and robbing. The lack of a home and the feeling of belonging eventually would affect the kid and society. Not to mention the easy access in the streets for drugs and violence. Homelessness in adults I do not really know what I stand. I think that not so fortunate people that do not have a home should be helped either by the government or non-profit organizations but it is sad to see that some people take advantages of this help and abuse it. In the other hand, what about people that like homelessness? We talked in class about different cases like mental patients that rather be homeless than living in a hospital.



Lindsey Boise
Austin Peay State University
UGP80@aol.com

Homelessness: Why Americans don't care

Homelessness is an obvious problem in the United States, stemming from the economic inequalities and class stratification caused by America's worst friend, Capitalism. It is around every corner and always lurking over our shoulders or more often, right in front of our eyes.

One would think that the American people as a whole would worry about homelessness and fight, out of the love and concern for fellow humanity, for the rescue of so many without shelter. Well, sorry, wrong, that just isn't the case. I would say, that for the most part, the average American could care less, and does care less. Even the people who sigh despairingly when they pass by a body under a newspaper rarely become motivated to actually attempt to lend aid to that person. To help justify their apathy towards the problem, the American citizen has come up with many excuses and stereotypes about the homeless. One excuse for not paying attention to the problem is embedded in the American work philosophy that says that one has to work diligently for what they earn and that if they don't have a home it's because they just don't work hard enough.

Therefore, the question arises, "why should we hard working Americans be bothered with these lazy bums? If they can't support themselves, why should the rest of us be forced to work for their benefit?". That sounds a little selfish and individualistic doesn't it? But, that's a true opinion. They somehow assume, that there is something wrong with these people, something that keeps them from functioning in this free-market rat race of overworked consumers, be it laziness, alcoholism, chemical dependency, mental illness, etc. A lot of Americans don't help because they view the homeless as a bunch of alcoholics who will only take their donations and buy some sort of liquor to dowse themselves with. This is another excuse for the apathy of the average citizen here.

I have a remedy for that stereotypical problem; instead of sitting on your moral anti-alcohol pedestal and not offering them anything as aid, how about helping prepare food at a soup kitchen or even just bringing some snacks or sandwiches down to the mission? Another stereotype about the homeless is that most of them are loony Vietnam veterans, who couldn't handle living in a peaceful society and turned to the streets, where they could continue murmuring field commands to themselves while looking for their next civilian to harass. This is yet another attempt to explain why they can't find a good job and source of income to get them off the street. They're too crazy to function in a "normal society". Give me a break, how stereotyping can you be. In addition, many people view the homeless as dirty, disease infested vermin, who are to be avoided, in preservation of personal health. People attribute horrible diseases to the homeless, diseases that are present on every class of society.

Therefore people can use the excuse that they don't want to become ill, so they don't want to get close enough to the problem to help. If Nostradamus could heal victims of the Black Death without catching the disease, if doctors can deliver babies from an HIV+ mother without passing the infection to themselves or the baby, than you can lend a hand to someone on the street. And if you're that concerned, there are organizations that will gladly take a contribution from you and deal with it appropriately.

The saddest side of homelessness is that it is seen as an abstract concept, rather than a concrete reality. Even discussion it makes it into an abstract reality. It is real, and something needs to be done, more than just words, discussion, and prayers.



Lina Collins
Austin Peay State University
Coolfunfirst@aol.com

Unfortunately, I have not been directly involved at all with homeless people . The only experience I have had with the homeless is through reading newspaper articles or watching television broadcasts.

Personally, I think everyone should be able to find a job and support himself or herself. Reality, however, doesn't work as well as theory. Many of the homeless are educated professionals who at one time had a great job and a great life and for one reason or another have lost everything.

One problem in today's society is that technology is taking away the small jobs that supported previous generations of unskilled laborers. The educated homeless need only a push or temporary support to get them back on their feet. But the unskilled, uneducated, or mentally ill homeless often have no hope of getting ahead in life. Should the government support them forever? Well, maybe to a certain extent. People who are capable of doing any sort of labor should be able to support themselves eventually. As for the other group, maybe the government can create jobs and also pay to help and support them. Making these people feel that they are working for their wages creates a sense of responsibility and can enhance their self-esteem.

Welfare is another option, but seems that homeless people sometimes cannot qualify since they need a permanent address to collect welfare checks. Again this program is great in theory but in practice we always hear about fraud and people staying unemployed in order to collect money from the government. This system should be better regulated and should be made easier for the truly poor and homeless. They are the ones that need it the most. I believe that healthy adults should be expected to work in order to collect a check. The welfare office should make it mandatory for them to have some sort of job so that they can grow accustomed to a routine 40-hours/week schedule. This may turn off some of the welfare recipients and they may decide to seek a regular job instead of coming in to the welfare office . That way, the only ones who actually came in would be the serious ones.

"Welfare to work" programs create problems for families with children. But even those people should have to do something in return for their checks. For example, the welfare department can create day- care programs and employ the recipients of welfare in those daycare services.

These are difficult issues that face America today. I wish it were easy to solve these problems and make America the beautiful country it should be.



Marilena Corbo Cochell
Austin Peay State University
mcorbo70@juno.com

Homelessness in the United States

Even if the United States is considered one of the most powerful and wealthy countries in the world with several opportunities of employment and education, homelessness is still a significant problem in constant search of solutions.

Since the problem concerns different categories of homeless people, I would like to focus my attention on the causes of family homelessness only.

The principal causes of homeless families are poverty and the lack of affordable housing. Stagnating wages and changes in welfare programs account for increasing poverty among families. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (the federal welfare reform law) established a block grant program called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). TANF benefits and Food Stamps combined are below the poverty level in every state; in fact, the average TANF benefit for a family of three is approximately one-third of the poverty level. Thus, contrary to popular opinion, welfare does not provide relief from poverty.

Although more families are moving from welfare to work, many of them are surviving poorly due to low wages and inadequate work supports. Only a small fraction of welfare recipients' new jobs pay above-poverty wages; most of the new jobs pay far below the poverty line (Children's Defense Fund and the National Coalition for the Homeless, 1998).

As a result of loss of benefits, low wages, and unstable employment, many families leaving welfare struggle to get medical care, food, and housing. In addition, housing is rarely affordable for families leaving welfare for low wages, yet subsidized housing is so limited that fewer than one in four TANF families nationwide lives in public housing or receives a housing voucher to help them rent a private unit. The American strong economy causes rents to rise, putting housing out of reach for the poorest Americans. As a result, more families are in need of housing assistance.

Domestic violence also contributes to homelessness among families. When a woman leaves an abusive relationship, she often has nowhere to go. This is particularly true of women with few resources. Lack of affordable housing and long waiting lists for assisted housing mean that many women are forced to choose between abuse and the streets.

Without affordable, decent housing, people cannot keep their jobs and they cannot remain healthy. Only combined efforts to meet all of these needs could end the tragedy of homelessness for America's families and children.



Brad E. Conatser
Austin Peay State University
GoodbyColumbus@aol.com

In current history, the human subject is becoming "a blip: ephemeral electronically processed, unreal." Over the last quarter-century, the world market has undergone a drastic metamorphosis from production-based economy t o information and service-oriented industry. Telecommunications and globalization doesn't help much either. The human is reduced from a tangible substance (labor and capital included as well) to a blip on a radar screen something that is becoming less and less real to those who hold power over the means of production (in today's world the ones who have the information and knowledge). The market landscape in increasingly dominated b y ever-larger, supranational trading blocs with the power to relocate capital and production to any given point on the globe at any given time. They have the power to displace as well. Where there are jobs, people will uproot and migrate, creating further problems in identity. American neo-colonialism has a larger ugly side than many of us (in the United States) would like to believe. First, it invades, overwhelms, assimilates, and eventually annihilates indigenous culture. At the northern end of Canada, where civilization stops, I found a Wal-Mart. second; it works against its own people. Here in the United States, homelessness is becoming more and more of an ugly issue to be swept under the rug so we can hide our shame, so we can fail to take responsibility for it. There is a trend in American management to move production from domestic locations to abroad, particularly in developing nations with far lower standards of living than our own. Why pay a member of organized labor $15.00 per hour when we can pay a Mexican farmer $2.00 per hour, which amount to riches beyond his wildest dreams when we calculate exchange rate?

Tangibility in regards to everything is becoming less and less valuable as technology jumps ahead, leaving society behind in its wake. Labor and the human subject in particular. Lives are forever changed at the click of a button because a person in the higher echelons of management wants to earn his/her extra $10,000 bonus at Christmas despite plummeting sales, as well a s the tag of "they're ingenious when it comes to personnel management and cutting corner." And the waiting lists and lines at the housing offices grow.. Society cannot catch up. Education falls behind as more and more families uproot and relocate in attempt to find work, crowding their children in the inner cities while the children of the white bourgeois huddle in safety in the suburbs. Crime rates multiply in areas where jobs suddenly disappear overnight. Homelessness increases as unemployment rates increase. Does this say something? And as all of these things add up, we produce a newer generation of blips to occupy our spaces when we retire. With a second-class education, the means of production and the power still lies in the hands of the privileged few that were sheltered from such occurrences. In such a state, society will never catch up. Homelessness has always been, will always be a problem.

We no longer place faith in the great meta-narratives of the past. A liberation of the proletariat is unrealistic, as is faith in the Enlightenment, and any other broad-based scheme for a better world. Only individual issues exist anymore. To solve the problem of homelessness, society-at-large must do some catching up. Human identity must mean something more than electronically processed data and statistical information for this grave problem to come to a solution. Government must not turn its head in favor of those who would subjugate and conquer, but must serve its duty to its own people first and foremost. Implementing programs to create domestic jobs would be a start; creating limits on the amount of jobs that can go overseas would be an even more effective measure. American owned and operate d corporations have an obligation to their own people before that of the almighty dollar. And fighting this issue out on the streets seems a more viable option. Educating those who are homeless, enabling them to take part in the (rather limited) social welfare programs those are suggestion s not for remedying the problem entirely, but at least working at it.



Garmen Gaylord
University of Tennessee-Martin
caregayl@mars.utm.edu

Homelessness, I feel, can not be linked to only one cause. I believe there are a multiplicity of causes for the problem. Although I do not believe there is one cause nor one answer to "fix" the problem of homelessness; I do believe there are ways to help relieve the prevalence of this condition. Also I believe that everyone, government included, should unite to help ease the pangs of homelessness. The government has a duty to lead and protect its citizens and because of this duties the government should be concerned and contribute to the relief effort. Ways of which the government might get involved is through helping to fund different organizations or creating committees to help coordinate efforts or perhaps direct aide. The members of society also have a duty to help contribute to the relief. Humans are the only creatures on earth who have the capacity to reason and feel compassion and because of these innate characteristics, I feel we have a duty to care for one another. Neighbors, communities, towns, cities all should unite to try and ease this disease.



Michael Gouge
Austion Peay State University
cgouge@budweiser.com

Homelessness, like most social issues of the day, is a complex subject. Now as Americans we are intrinsically lazy (do not argue this point, this is a scientific fact) we would like to blame the problem one simple to define scapegoat. Some point their fingers at the government, some at the educational system, others blame alcohol, or mental illness, and even the individual. Well, it's all these things and a few others which no one has really thought of yet. I have come to terms with the issue of homelessness like most other injustices, by realizing that the world we live in is a dark one, where tragedy after tragedy befalls mankind from the moment of his conception in the universe, till time is stood upon its side. We try to help, we really do. We create government programs and private institutions intending to solve the homeless issue, but like my version of the old saying goes "The good intentions of the past create the hell we live in today." Through complex corruption, simple ineptness, and some other unknown reason, we help only a fraction of those without shelter. So it shall go until the nature of man is altered to be more empathetic, or a cost-benefit ratio is found in helping our fellow humans out.

Now that my initial tirade is complete, I wish to now point my finger in another direction. This planet. Or really the mind-boggling number of people who believe they can coexist (not peacefully of course) on the face of it. Six-billion souls cannot be supported well by this one planet, which should be obvious considering the problem with lack of employment, food, and of course shelter to go around. In centuries past, our population was regulated well like all species with which we share this chunk of granite and grass. The four horsemen kept the population tidy enough for the space that was available. This is now no longer the case due to modern agriculture and medicine. So we are able exceed the population limit of the planet, or so we think. For each life we save, more food is needed, more work, more houses, more air. Until war, famine, pestilence, some new specter of death, or profound social change occurs to push the population down to a more reasonable level, we will have more and more starving, homeless, and dying people in every corner of our dear home, earth.



From: Melissa Holt
Austin Peay State University
Melina319@excite.com

Homelessness

Homelessness is a very important problem that plagues the United States today. Having volunteered my time in the past at the Union Mission in Downtown Nashville, I have witnessed first hand the number of people affected by homelessness.

I know how easy it can be to pass a homeless person while walking down the sidewalk or driving down the street, but my time volunteering made me realize how human this problem is. It has a face, the faces of men, women, and children who have been as well off as you and I, but struck by bad luck.

We've all seen the man sitting on a box or crate on the street asking for a handout. The first thing that I used to think was "Wow, how lazy is that guy. It's easy to just ask for money." But, I was wrong. For a person to be desperate enough to ask a stranger for spare change, it shows that somehow their will has been broken, and their need has exceeded their pride. We all need to take a more sensitive approach to handling this situation.

The growing problem of homelessness in the United States calls for immediate action on the part of all of its citizens. More government money and attention should be focused on providing food, shelter, and support for our homeless because they're not just an issue, they're people just like you and me.



Amanda Jowers
University of Tennessee-Martin
adnamachio@hotmail.com

Homelessness and Education

I believe that homelessness is caused by a lack of proper education. Education is the key to success in our nation. When people are poorly educated, they have no place in the economic society. In large cities, a quality public education is hard to find. Private schools provide the only quality education and they are too expensive for most to afford. Even in small cities, most education is so outdated that it helps the students little in the real world. Our education systems fail our society because if people do not get a good education, they do not strive to go to college and learn more. They are satisfied with mediocrity. When people do not go to college, they have a hard time finding jobs thus leaving them with little money to pay bills, rent, etc ­ leaving them in the long run homeless because they do not fit into the economic society.

I believe our society has a very negative view of homeless people for the most part. We see homeless people and assume that it was something that they did to cause them to live the way they do. When one asks for money, we always assume that they are going to buy liquor or drugs. We never even consider that they really may need food. In my experience, I offer to buy them a meal (from the establishment that they are standing in front of) and some food for later. If they accept, fine. If they don't, it's their loss.

As far as I know the government does little for the homeless. Mainly individuals and groups do the work for them with soup kitchens and shelters. Churches are highly involved also doing whatever they can to aid people. Work for the homeless is a volunteer job in the U.S.



Zeineb Lebbadi
Austin Peay State Univeresity
zl7390@apsu.edu

Homelessness in Atlanta

It is not because somebody does not have a home or a job that they are homeless. It is because they do not have an address, do not have enough money to pay rent or own a house. That is why people end up homeless.

Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the biggest cities in the United States, and also is the city that has the highest percentage of homelessness. It is said that the percentage of homeless women is higher than that of men. Unfortunately, there are more shelters for men than there are for women. So where do these women go? Well, they go live with strangers in exchange for sex, and when the man has enough she goes to another, and another. Life in a shelter is tough, though: the homeless have to be there by 7 p.m. and leave by 4a.m. That way, say the people in charge of theshelter, the homeless will not get comfortable, and will try to get their own place, and their own jobs.

There are many organizations that try to help the homeless. One of them is The SafeHouse, it's sponsored by Christians. They provide warm meals, clothing, worship services, employment assistance, and medical attention. They help in every way they can.

There is much to do for these people and I am willing to help where ever they are: here in America or in Europe, in Africa, Asia, or any other continent.



Maleye Leye
University of Tennessee-Martin
malleye@hotmail.com

Le Droit au Logement

Le droit au logement est un problème majeur en France. Bien que ce droit est constitutionnel, on assiste à des situations derisoires à ce qui concerne le logement en France. Certes la france a plus que jamais la possibilité de bātir de décents logements, mais certains facteurs comme la crise de l'emploi, le désengagement de l'Etat et la renovation urbaine constituent des blocus à la réalisation de ce project.

La sévère privatisation du logement a exclu les défavorisés qui se retrouvent dans une situation de sans abris. Face à ce fléaut, des associations comme "Droit Au Logement" qui luttent pour l'amélioration du logement ont vu le jour en France au fil des années précédentes.

A propos de cette lutte il est important de noter l'action de l'Abbé Pierre à travers les mouvements familiaux. En effet il s'est opposé à la réquisition et a mené une politique de logements des moins favorisés.



Stephanie Gray Lincoln
University of Tennessee-Martin
dmbabe@hotmail.com

Mental Illness and Homelessness

I think that mental illness is a problem with the homeless because there are no rules on keeping them in the hospitals and also there are no rules to force them to take medicine. So, if you are crazy and you are in a hospital and feel like it's time for you to leave, then you just sign yourself out and go. Now, if you are not competent to sign yourself in, and you have no idea about what is going on around you, then you are not allowed to leave, but for borderline cases, there really are no guidelines and you can leave any time you want to.

Even if you leave the hospitals, you can still decide to take medicine. There is a follow up of sorts to make sure the medicine is available to mentally ill people, and to monitor the patients to see if they take the medecine, but there are no laws saying they have to take medicine. The mentally ill believe that hospitals and institutions steal their freedom and they had rather live on the street than be in the hospitals. Also, some people feel that medication turns them into zombies and they cannot think or feel emotions, and they had rather live real lives without mind altering drugs. They just don't understand why they have to be different from others, and they do not want to be isolated because of their disabilities. But in these times people with mental illness can be helped, but choose the alternative, and live on the streets, barely making it, for the price of freedom.



Diana Lugo
Austin Peay State University
Karyme9916@cs.com
Karyme9916@hotmail.com

Homeless in America

Poverty and hunger have always played a role in this world, whether it be in a fast growing city, or a slowed pace rural town. Even countries with untouchable economies have people that are living on the streets, eating out of garbage cans, and losing hope. Each day, homeless people awake to the cruel reality of life: they have no food, no water, and no home, but most importantly, they lack a helping hand.

It appears to be that as the economy flourishes, so does the homeless rate. The Unites States has, for the most part, a very stable economy; however, not even a powerful titan like the US is immune to poverty. Each year there are numerous cases of homeless individuals dying in the streets.

While they freeze and starve to death, those who can help look the other away. People think that by ignoring the problem it will go away, but they are wrong. The problem will never go away unless something is done!

People often ignore the problem because they are ignorant about the circumstances that put these individuals in such a position. They often think that people are homeless because they choose to be, but really, who on this earth would choose to be homeless? It is very unjust that people often label homeless individuals as "lazy bums who are looking for an easy way out of working by draining the government's money." People who think like that are only trying to make themselves feel better by looking down on someone else.

Perhaps one will never find the answer to homelessness, but it never hurts to try. One has to do everything one can to help out our fellow beings. Keeping an ignorant attitude will not solve anything; in fact, it will make the situation worse. Homelessness does not have to be an issue if people care to help.



Martha Montano
University of Tennessee-Martin
marbmont@mars.utm.edu

Yo pienso que la gente que vive en la calle deberia al menos de tratar de hacer algo mas, buscar trabajo , ver la manera de poder salir adelante con su vida y no nada mas vivir en la calle de lo que los demas te dan por lastima o por compasion . Creo todos tenemos facultades necesarias como para poder salir adelante y no dejarnos ir al camino facil y vivir en la calle .

Yo creo mucha gente se aprovecha de vivir en la calle , y por lo mismo que asi pueden vivir , no hacen nada mas por salir adelante . Los centros de atencion son una buena idea para ayudarlos , sin embargo los unicos que pueden tomar la decision de dajar la calle son ellos y ahi esta el problema , por que no quieren vivir en una institucion y tampaco trabajar como la demas gente .



Cynthia Shrader
Austin Peay State University
CAS7144@apsu01.apsu.edu

Homelessness in the United States is a major problem that many people choose to deny or ignore altogether. Although we have the stereotypical image of a dirty, unkempt old man dressed shabbily in rags, swigging on a bottle of cheap wine, begging for pocket change, that is a hackneyed image that is not completely true today. To many people's surprise, today's homeless people range from mentally ill persons turned out from institutions from lack of space to entire families with little children.

Homelessness does not discriminate according to social class ranking. Homelessness captures poor, rich and middle class alike. Even though we Americans like to think of ourselves as safe and secure in our apartments and houses, it could take just one or two missed paychecks or mortgage payments to join the ranks of the homeless. It time for the Americans with their collective heads in the sand to wake up to the reality of homelessness.

There are as many paths to homelessness (alcoholism, mismanagement of income) as there are potential solutions (more government aid, private shelters and counseling). But is there one ultimate solution to the problem of homelessness? I do not know. Until there is recognition of a problem, however, there can be no solution.



Sally F. Utech
University of Tennessee-Martin
salfutec@mars.utm.edu

I do have a lot of empathy for the homeless. There are various different reasons for homelessness, one being mental illness. Mentally ill patients who are hospitalized are not forced to take medications to stifle their diseases. Also, any patient can check himself out of a hospital at any time. Society knows full well that anyone who is serious enough to be hospitalized probably cannot live successfully alone out in the real world. But, there are no out-patient type programs in place to help integrate mentally ill patients who do not want to live in the hospital into society. Therefore, the only choices for a mental patient are to live in a hospital or live in the street due to the inability to hold a job, keep a house, and take care of himself.

Another sympathetic case is that of US war veterans. After coming back from something as traumatizing as a war, soldiers are expected to just go back home and live a regular life. Many people are unable to do this. War trauma brings about another kind of mental illness, which makes a veteran just as unable as any other mentally ill person to live in society. The government offers no psychological counseling for veterans, and many feel so disgusted with themselves and society that they do not want anything to do with society--this includes a job, a home, and going back to their families. Although i have not personally experienced homelessness to such a powerful extent, i grew up in a military family where, every time we moved, we had no house to go to. Finding a house was never assured, and we lived in military billeting hotels for a while because we could not find a house to live in. My family was not poor or in danger of being so, but we were still without a home and it did give us a feeling of insecurity for a long time because we had nowhere to go home to.


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bobp@utm.edu

TennesseeBob Peckham
Director, The Globe-Gate Project
University of Tennessee-Martin