It is a sad state of afairs and it is only getting worse
Just recently, my picture was in the front page of Jacksonville Florida Newspaper, The Florida Times Union. It was not because of anything special I did or any crime I committed. It was because I have been fortunate enough to get back into stable housing after a bout of homelessness. I was interviewed mainly to get my view on what one has to do to survive on the street during the wintertime. In reality when I was out on the streets, I did not spend that much time exposed to severe weather. It is true, that I was on the streets between the months of December and January and yet, overall the weather was not all that bad. A few days slipped down below the thirties and even into the low twenties. On those nights, I was usually able to get into a homeless shelter.
During the interview, I revealed that I wrote online and I was asked if I ever wrote anything on being homeless. I had to admit that I had not and I suddenly realized that I was embarrassed about being homeless and in some ways; I was trying to pretend it never happened. When I realized this, it sadden me. For the truth is, I went though a lot of positive changes because of it. One thing that happened is that I came a lot closer to God during this hardship. I discovered a strong Christian church that has aided me greatly in my walk with God.
I came to grasp and take ownership of an important fact. That was that I have a fear of homelessness! I can understand how some people are offended or frightened by the homeless, for even when I was homeless some of the homeless offended and frightened me! I did what ever I could think to do to try to distance myself from the “typical” homeless types.
This changed somewhat when I became aware that lot of the men and women I knew went against the stereotypes of homelessness. I met men who were not habitual criminals or drug addicts or alcoholics. I met men who had a good education or work at high paying jobs at times in there lives and still ended up homeless. People like myself that fought long and hard to try to escape homelessness but lost that battle, at least for a short time in there lives. There are exceptions to the rules. Anyone can become homeless!
Take me for example; I went back to Collage to take courses in Marketing and TV Production, which included an intern-ship with a privately owned TV Station. I was not an alcoholic however; I have had drug abuse as part of my story. I have a clean Police Recorded not because I was always an up standing citizen; I just never got caught in any serious crimes.
As far as Mental Disorders, I have been diagnosed with Chronic Depression and Suicidal tendencies. This did not keep me from owning my own Video Production Business and working as Psychiatric Technician for five years at a state run mental hospital. This sort of thing does not supposed to happen to someone like myself. At least that is what I told myself, so what happened? Were did I go wrong?
The truth is there is a lot of reasons that this did happened to me, for looking back on my life I can see some costly mistakes I have made. I am going to examine the possible reason so I may help someone else from making similar mistakes. I have no desire to play the victim and say it is all the fault of a weak economy, even though that does have a lot to do with it! It is hard for me to say what the number one reason I became homeless was however, not building a strong savings and budgeting money had a lot to do with it. There was a time when I squandered my money on drugs and other unnecessary items. The fact that I had to live pay-check to pay-check most the time also prevented me from saving much money.
For the past few years, I had been working in construction work and when I first started working in construction, you could just about get a job any ware you wanted to and if you were not working, it was because you did not want to work. Then, the bottom dropped out. It did not happen overnight and yet, I remember going from working seventy hours a week to were, I was working only twenty-five hours a week. Then came the point that I could not find any work at all no mater how hard I tried.
At this time, I was living in Myrtle Beach South Carolina and I started looking at other possibilities of places to live. This was right after the Hurricane hit Galveston and Houston Texas. A lot of my friends decided that this was a good idea and headed to Texas. Instead, I had friends that convinced me that I should move to Jacksonville Florida. When I moved, I honestly thought it was the right choice and yet I found out fast that this was not the case. Unemployment was even worst than in Myrtle Beach. I ended up sleeping in bushes and free-way underpasses until I finally gotten into Sulzbacher Center were I stayed for six months.
Since I had a history of drug abuses and “Mental Illness,” I qualified for temporary housing with Volunteers of America (VOA). With out the help of this organisation I know I would probably still be out on the street! To give back to VOA I started writing a Newsletter for them.
From what I have witness with the way our society view the homeless there seems to be a trend to either criminalize or ignore the reality of this situation. Homelessness is not going away in fact it is becoming worse! I do not want to fill this hub with a lot of statistics because I feel that a high percentage of the statistics available are incorrect. The homeless situation is even worse than the media will lead us to believe.
I will use a few facts just to drive home my point. This problem cannot and should not be ignored. It is every ones problem! Here is a direct quote from the National Coalition for the Homeless; I will also provide a link to them for they are a great organisation. “On March 27, 2008, CBS News reported that 38 percent of foreclosures involved rental properties, affecting at least 168,000 households.The Sarasota, Florida, Herald Tribune noted that, by some estimates, more than 311,000 tenants nationwide have been evicted from homes this year after lenders took over the properties.In 2007, ten of the 23 cities surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors reported an increase in the number of households with children accessing shelters and transitional housing. Six of these 23 cities also reported an increase in the number of individuals accessing these services.”
That was back 2007 and just judging from what I seen with my own eyes in Jacksonville, Florida the circumstance has gotten much worse. So what is the solution to this problem and is there one? One step in the right direction would be for more people to take responsibility for this! For I have found that a lot of people are clueless to the real story behind the homeless population. Here is an example of what I mean taken from my own life experience. I should worn you, that what I have to say may seem controversial! The controversy comes from the fact that a lot of us have become comfortable with the way we perceive things to be and not the way they truly are!
When I was at the Sulzbacher Center, my Case Worker saw that I had a history of drug use so he “recommended” that I go to two AA or NA meetings twice a week even though I was clean and sober at the time I came into the shelter. One of the AA meetings I went to, a woman told me that as long as I stayed clean and sober I would not end up homeless ever again! I could not believe how naïve this woman was! For being clean and sober would not guarantee that I would not become homeless again!
I discovered that a lot of Government agencies love to label you and if you do not meet the statistics they either ignore you or try to make you fit into a category they can deal with! If you do not have a mental illness, they will try to give you one, just so you will look good on their paper work! Some people even tried to brand me as Bi-Polar even though I do not have any of the traits that people with condition have! I have never had a manic day in my life and I do not have illusions of grander! In fact, the opposite is true.
One of the problems I have seen with non-prophet organisations is that they can get over whelmed with some of the challenges they face and they will choose a solution that may not be the best or correct way to resolve the problem however, they will use those methods for they have become accustom to using them. I have seen this on a personal level when I was trying to obtain my Birth Certificate from California while I was living in Florida.
My Case Manager used a service on the Internet for acquiring my Birth Certificate that ended up being the wrong approach. This is because ever since the passing of the Patriot Act, you must go though Vital Statics Office in your state to obtain your Birth Certificate. Your application needs to be certified by a Notary of the Republic.
The service the shelter used ended up taking over four months before I received this document and cost more money than the certified copy cost. When I finely did get my certified copy, it only took one week and was much cheaper than the wrong way , go figure! The reason I bring this up is that I wish to help those who may end up in similar situation to avoid the frustration I went though.
I will not get to political bout this, except to say that it is now easier for an Illegal Alien to acquire a fake ID than an American Citizen to get a Certified Birth Certificate! Something is wrong with this picture! Even after I received my Birth Certificate, I found out the facility that I was at was still using the service that would issue you a Birth Certificate that was not official for ID purposes! So they still did not learn from this mistake!
I am very thankful for all the help that I had gotten while I was homeless it is just that we as nation should strive to do what we can to improve the condition of the homeless in this country. I also feel that until we eliminate greed we will never eliminate homelessness! For greed is one of the main reasons this economy is in the mess that it is!
Why do young men think this is funny?
Here is are some realy helpful link and hub/poem that I thought was great!
I can not help but wonder what others think...
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on January 23, 2013:
Wow sparkster you should write a hub about that...Hay Jen, you are most wlcome and I should do a up date on this hub!
Jen Card on January 23, 2013:
Great hub! Thank you for the education and information. I applaud you, for taking this path in life. It is a brave soul that would take on the experience of being homeless. I agree with what you said that greed is one of the biggest issues in this country. I also agree that a lot of people can just walk on by due to the fears of knowing deep inside that we ALL are responsible for our brothers and sisters out there homeless. Its hard to look into the eyes of truth. Voted up! I would like to share this story. Thank you. ~Jen
Marc Hubs from United Kingdom on January 20, 2013:
"I discovered that a lot of Government agencies love to label you and if you do not meet the statistics they either ignore you or try to make you fit into a category they can deal with! If you do not have a mental illness, they will try to give you one, just so you will look good on their paper work!"
This rings so true! It has been suggested that this is all to do with eugenics. I was homeless (in UK) just under a year ago for a short period of about 5 weeks and I had very little to no income at the time also. Despite the situation I was refused welfare benefits and had no choice but to just survive by myself somehow. This isn't the first time I had been homeless but it's the worst because previously I had people who could help out - now I don't.
There was no help whatsoever from the UK government, I contacted all the organizations, charities, shelters, etc and even my local MP but no help whatsoever was ever offered, despite them claiming that they help. It's a sad situation and now the UK government have just made Housing Benefit cutbacks and they are kicking disabled people off welfare benefits - up to 32 people are now dying each and every week in UK after having their income, livelihood and homes stripped away from them.
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on July 06, 2012:
Thank you Eco Friendly for stopping in!
e Eco Friendly on May 17, 2012:
What a touching story! I'm glad you're in a better place now. It's such a shame how cruel and insensitive some people can be to others who find themselves in less fortunate situations.
My son was homeless for quite a while and some of the experiences he encountered were very disturbing and frightening.
Some of the labels you don't often see describing homeless people are courageous, caring and resourceful, yet most of the homeless people I've encountered seem to fit that description. My son certainly does and it seems like you do also.
Thanks for caring enough and having the courage to share your story.
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on January 20, 2012:
Thank you Dollie for dropping in! I am in a better place, and time are still tough. However, I do now see positive signs of change in the economy.
Dollie on January 20, 2012:
So sorry dear you had go thur all that! Your letter was amazing! And look my eyes to the home less and there needs. I do pray you in a better place in your life at time, so you can help all in need of a life out there! Thank you for you post. Dollie
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on October 07, 2011:
No apology is necessary, I understand! :)
Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on October 07, 2011:
I know and I am sorry, I was feeling rather jaded yesterday.
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on October 07, 2011:
However, Becky Katz winning is a big deal for it will help a lot with your exposure that down the road will lead to money. This on-line writing game takes a lot of time a patients but if you hang in there, you will see that winning the HubNugget will pay off in the long run! Even placing high in the contest is a positive thing.
Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on October 06, 2011:
I did, they notified me yesterday. Money? no! Exposure, yes!
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on October 06, 2011:
Thank you again Becky, for stopping in! Your observations are dead on! When I was a teenager I took wilderness survival training which believe it our not has become useful even in the city! I hope you win the Hubnugget contest for your hub was priceless!
Becky Katz from Hereford, AZ on October 06, 2011:
I have found your hub about homelessness and it is very good. I found much of use here and it has reinforced my opinion that if you have to be homeless for a while, do it in the country. The city is just flat dangerous. I have been homeless 4-5 times, living in tents and a tiny camper and always went to the country. I found a church member that allowed me to camp on their land. Best way to go.
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on August 22, 2011:
Thank Phil for reading and yet, this was a hub that needed to be written and will probably write another one close to this one soon!
Phil Plasma from Montreal, Quebec on August 22, 2011:
It must have been difficult to write this hub, I can only imagine. It is a terrible thing, how society is moving to have more people become homeless. Something severe desperately needs to be done, but who will do it? As it serves no one but the homeless, it is really tough.
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on August 17, 2011:
Hello glassvisage,thank for reading and becoming a follower!(Wait a second, I am also falling you so how DOES this work)? :)
glassvisage from Northern California on August 16, 2011:
I am happy to hear that you brought yourself out of homelessness. I have worked with homeless individuals and it is clear to me how easy it could be for any of us to be homeless, especially in this economy. You can't count on anything these days and can't take anything for granted. Thanks for reminding me to be grateful for what I have.
ExoticHippieQueen on July 26, 2011:
Highvoltagewriter, I too was in a predicament living in a tent in northern Florida with my husband and three kids. We didn't lose our home, did it voluntarily, but it gave me a taste of what it would be like to be homeless, as we lived in a tent for a few months. It was tough. My heart goes out to all the homeless people, there but for the grace of God go I. I am one paycheck away from homelessness as are many others. I wish I knew how to help.........so many need medical treatment of different kinds that they are not getting.
arb from oregon on March 21, 2011:
Awesome and voted so. If you get a chance read my hub "will America gain the world and loose it's soul" I think you will like it. Poverty is the forgotten heart and the new scapegoat for Americans. This is a voice a voice crying in the wilderness and we know how He honors such a voice. Well done!
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on March 16, 2011:
This is a condition that is becoming a reall crisis not only in the U.S.A, but also though out the world. The resent tragedy that happened in Japan has created a masive homelessness problem that will not be an easy fix. Thank you so much for your comment
graceomalley on March 16, 2011:
Thank you for this hub. I have been on disability for the past year due to a chronic pain condition, but I have just received my last payment. To get long term disability I would need money for a lawyer, with no guarentee of success. I lost my lab job due to not being able to fulfill physical requirements. I say all this to say I know how close to the edge most of us are. I am married and my husband takes care of me - I do as much as I can to support him and take care of my kids. I am working on getting jobs tutoring kids in English - one client so far! I am educated as well - master's degree. I think our society does not face the reality of homelessness - too much shame there. Thank you for sharing your story and hopefully enlightening some.
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on January 10, 2011:
Hay JB, thank you for dropping by, yes I know that only 2% of the population of the United States has the wealth and this is the way it has been going on for most of the history of the world! The rich get richer and the poor get poorer!
Jamie Brock from Texas on January 10, 2011:
Highvoltage, Thank you for this great hub! I do kind of think people turn a deaf ear to this stuff. I've been in shelters too and it's hard for someone to imagine if they haven't been there and I SO agree with you about the greed in this country. It is sad and shocking. I heard recently that the majority of the wealth in this country belongs to a group of people which makes up 2% of the population in the US. Have you heard this? I was shocked.
valeriebelew from Metro Atlanta, GA, USA on January 01, 2011:
Stunning article. The video was shocking and sad. Scary what people do to the poor. (:v
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 29, 2010:
You're welcome,i'm glad you liked it and can use it along with yours,maybe it will wake some people up.
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on December 29, 2010:
Thanks AE for droping by and once again for that poem!
Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 29, 2010:
Thank you for writing your story,proves that one can have a degree and find themselves homeless.We as a country must do something.We Americans must stand up and demand our government do something to stop the greedy corp.from leaving and taking jobs away.Take care.
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on November 18, 2010:
Thank you so much for this post, for the more people that speak out about this problem the better "we" will be able to fight it!
Petra Vlah from Los Angeles on November 18, 2010:
This is a very moving story and it only re-enforces my opinion that the government has very different priorities (like protecting the privilages of the rich and spending money on idiotic wars) while too many people are suffering and whatever help they get is way too little.
In the early ´80 I met a para leagal lady who helped my mother with some legal forms; one day a few years ago I saw her on the streets of Los Angeles as a homeless person. Lynda was a professional person who ended up as a homeless and I doubt she had a drinking or mental problem. She told me about the LA Mission and the good work they do there and she was using her experience to help others
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on November 12, 2010:
Remember that even Jesus was homeless, for he said; "foxes have holes holes but the Son of Man has no were to lay his head! (Or something like that, I must go and look it up). Yes, your hub on homelessnes was the very first hub I read from you! I will find out more about this 5-HTP, for it sounds interesting!
magnoliazz from Wisconsin on November 11, 2010:
I came by again to read this hub again. You have been through so much.
You are right, being homeless can happen to anyone, I was homeless for 2 years. I wrote about it on one of my hubs. My husband was in a car accident and I hurt my back at work, and we ended up homeless, and we did not do drugs or alcohol either.
For depression, have you ever tried 5-HTP? Its a lot better than anti depression drugs.
You are right, homelessness is getting worse, and its not going away. We need to get our manufacturing base back, until that happens, American will suffer.
I say a prayer for the homeless, because but for the grace of God, go I. I tell everyone, save your money, buy a little house that you can truly afford, and pay it off and be happy with what you have. You can live in a palace, but if you cannot pay for it, it will be like living in hell because you will always have to worry.
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on October 29, 2010:
Wow, I do not know what to say, for looking at your picture long enough I do see something...but I do not know what. For a moment I thought I saw the face of Jesus! No I am not making this up and we must talk more!
Marliza Gunter on October 27, 2010:
hmm..you confuse me..avatar?...do/can you see the Spirit entity moving in my picture, from right side to the left?
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on October 27, 2010:
Hello Marliza, I am so pleased to see your smilling face even if it is just your Avatar! Yes God has really humbled me by letting me loose almost every thing and to be at the mercy of others!Thank you so much for dropping by, and I thank God for allowing me to be insterment to encourage others to speak out about homelessness.
Marliza Gunter on October 27, 2010:
Like you..I was drawn to this hub..it speaks my language...I too live with one foot in the cupboard and one foot under the tree..I've been without bed, roof and food many times...It has forced me to call upon God and to trust Him..I've also been to shelters and know how it is there..how it feels to be at the mercy of people who has no clue what you're going through..yes..they label you, treat you like you are mentally disturbed, have some weird contagious illness..oh and try to mention God while you have no home or food and they attack full fledged with the reasoning.."oh yeah..so where is your God now?"
I must follow in your footsteps and also start to speak up about homelessness, abuse and all sort of things that I have the experience about...thanks for your encouragement..you're a star!!
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on September 14, 2010:
Here is a up date for everyone...like mythbuster, I to haven become quite involved in community outreach for the homeless by continuing to bing involved with helping other men who are at the shelter that helped me so much!
saddlerider1 on September 14, 2010:
Thank you for publishing this hub and making us all aware the seriousness of this huge homeless problem in America and elsewhere. I knew of some people who ended up in the streets for awhile and it was no picnic.
They encountered all kinds of problems. Females are targeted and are not safe for being attacked or raped. I know mean streets, I grew up in them as a young man and it's not a pretty sigh. I hope you are able to have a better life and that you prevent yourself from becoming homeless again.
The video was very sad to see people attacked and abused that way by bullies of the streets. The police need to protect the homeless better than they do and show more compassion in my opinion. Peace brother
mythbuster from Utopia, Oz, You Decide on September 14, 2010:
Highvoltagewriter *hugs* Thanks for speaking openly about your homelessness experience. I have been homeless and am actually quite sensitive to the video right now because I'm working hard to not become homeless at the end of this month. I can relate to almost everything in your hub - except that I stopped being too embarrassed to talk about homelessness and have been doing public speaking on homelessness, marginalization, segregation of the homeless, oppression issues for about 5yrs now. I can also agree with your almost political statement about acquiring various sorts of ID...
*highfive* Glad you're not homeless anymore - keep telling people about your experiences. I am also impressed that, early on in the material, you mention some positive things about homelessness - your relationship with God became more intimate, etc. Also - resourcefulness... you became more resourceful and grateful by the sounds of things...something I hear often when I speak with low-income and homeless peers - so I wish many people would stop calling the homeless "ungrateful, lazy" etc.
mythbuster from Utopia, Oz, You Decide on September 14, 2010:
Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh - I watched the video and have to practice some anger management before I finish the content on this hub lol I should have waited to watch the vid - LAST... back soon.
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on August 20, 2010:
Thank you everyone for your feedback-for this is a important isue for me.
Lori J Latimer from Central Oregon on August 15, 2010:
Thank you for writing on this topic! It is one many want to ignore, unless it has happened to them. Peace
Lita C. Malicdem from Philippines on August 10, 2010:
That was gory and heartless! As if those unfortunate homeless don't have rights to live? Shelters aren't enough to accommodate their growing number, and we can't fully blame them for choosing the open dangers of the streets. A little compassion must be taught those youngsters who enjoy their perverted acts against the downtrodden. Great hub.
AJHargrove from USA on June 08, 2010:
Well done. I'm pleasantly surprised by the honesty in this piece.
mega1 on May 12, 2010:
Great that you wrote this. The more we learn from the actual people who suffer from homelessness the better our chances of eliminating its causes. I know a bunch of people who have been homeless off and on and never even used that word to describe themselves - they slept on friends' couches and in shelters, but some of them still had jobs and so didn't consider themselves truly homeless. Well, there may be "degrees" of homelessness, but until it happens to you, you may not see that it is just another fact of life in this country and nothing to feel ashamed about. Although we teach people in this country to be ashamed of their failures, no matter how those failures came about. Basic attitudes need to change! Great hub!
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on April 19, 2010:
Magnoliazz..I am sorry that I did not realize you had stopped by! Thank you so much for all you comments!
magnoliazz from Wisconsin on April 09, 2010:
Moving and excellent hub! Thanks for sharing a very personal and difficult time in your life. I will say a prayer for you that things will turn around for you. With God's love, it will happen.
William Benner (author) from Savannah GA. on February 16, 2010:
Thank you for dropping by and sorry it took some to to check on this one...Yes things are much better!
MagicStarER from Western Kentucky on February 15, 2010:
I've been there, too. Thanks for sharing. I am glad you got help and are ok now, I hope?