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Many of our homeless today are mentally ill. Many are veterans - many are people who simply cannot afford the high cost of housing and receive a meager if any income at all. Having worked with the homeless and homeless issues for many years in Massachusetts I have some first-hand knowledge of this problem.
True, there are fakers - but there are fakes everywhere and who would want to fake being homeless - not having a safe place to rest - the children and youth on our streets who are taken advantage of by predators, who are enticed into drugs and prostitution - this is sad, and yes, they may have made a choice when they took that first drug or drink, but they are human too - and it could be your child or father or brother or sister or friend.
Having a child (18 now) who is mentally ill, my husband and I have taken steps to ensure we can remain active in his life legally, to hopefully prevent him from ever ending up on the streets as too many of the mentally ill do. Yes, there are shelters - but not all shelters are good or safe. I know of shelters where the people could only come at a certain time at night and during the day, freezing or not, were not allowed access to the shelter, so would roam the streets - usually go into the libraries, etc., anyplace where they could get warm.
Many years ago, when my husband was injured in an industrial accident and we lost everything we owned, and our son was only a baby, we ended up homeless, except we were fortunate enough to have relatives who gave us a place to stay until we could get on our feet again - in a million years, I would have never thought I'd ever end up homeless back then - but we are all - no matter what our income, only a paycheck - only a disaster away from the possibility of homelessness
.I remember years ago, when
working for an agency in which we worked against homelessness, fought hard for affordable
housing and equal housing opportunities a man came in off the streets - homeless - yes he
drank, but we spoke and he was such an interesting and obviously intelligent and well
educated man. I thought to myself, he could be MY Father, for my father drank for many
years until he reached his time when sobriety was his. Not long after meeting this man, he
was struck and killed by a car. A local funeral home, took care of the arrangements and
then they found out who he was.....he had been a decorated service man - well educated, a
family man too - who through his shame of drinking and the depths he had reached in his
life due to his inability to overcome alcohol, had lost track of his family. I attended
his funeral - as many others did in the community, and sadly, no family member
was there...but we felt we were his family...he could have been my father; and I think again
of my son, and when I read this about this man from Maine, I cried in my heart, for I
remember and I think, we are all connected, whether Indian or not, we are human beings and
it's sad, that this man is dead, for having a walking stick in hand, and perhaps being
somewhat threatening, but obviously mentally ill and probably self-medicating himself as
many do with alcohol. It touched me so I had to write this. May he rest in peace.