Under-housed and almost homeless in America

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Homeless person

Homeless.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.com

Sometimes homelessness wears disguises.

We here in America have slipped into a shared fantasy. There are the homeless and then there are the rest of us. It would be reassuring if there were only those two kinds of people and if we could somehow pretend that the majority of us would never be homeless.

The truth is that many of us are at risk of becoming homeless. Homeless for many does not spring up overnight. It can begin as a slow slide off the cliff and into the deep waters of hopelessness.

Most of us are only 30 days away from being homeless. Lose your job or other sources of income and the eviction proceedings begin. You can try to starve it off as long as possible, borrow from friends, max out the credit cards. You try one thing, then another. But unless the money flows in again the slide to the street begins.

There is this shadow thing here in America – the under-housed.

Many stop off here on their way to the homeless encampments. One reason it is so hard to get a handle on homelessness is because people slip back and forth between being without a home, the out on the street night after night, and the short-term stay places.

The slide towards homelessness can begin when suddenly you have to leave the place where you stay. Couples fight and break up. There may be domestic violence or addiction. One partner, often the woman has to leave suddenly. So they go to stay with friends and relatives. The intention is to be there for a while until they can find permanent stable housing.

These stays may be temporary. The people who took in their friends or relatives only have so much space, so much money. Eventually the under-housed have to leave and move on.

Couch surfing on the way to being homeless.

Repeated moves can become “couch surfing,” a night here and a night there. You may be able to afford a motel for a night or two. Eventually, this gets expensive. Expensive beyond many people’s means.

Sometimes they are able to stay longer. We find two or more families living together in a house or apartment not designed for much more than a single person.  Not because they want to live in crowded conditions, not because they are cheap, but because they have no income or only limited funds and the cost of permanent housing is beyond their reach.

Families with small children may come apart.

One child stays with grandma, another with an aunt. But there is no place for mothers and children together.

Some of you are saying there are programs for the homeless, why don’t they go to the shelters? Plenty of nights the shelters are full. There are waiting lists and programs may need your contact information. Some programs require a background check. Where do you stay while you wait to qualify for those programs?

If they do find logging in a woman’s shelter, dad or child’s father can’t come.

Women are at high risk to hook up with a man, most any man, in order to have a roof over their head and food for them and their children. Most of these relationships do not last. The cycle repeats.

Before we congratulate ourselves on the efforts to place the homeless into permanent housing, we need to be ever aware of the host of almost homeless who on any given night might end up down at the local encampment.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel

The ambulance at the corner

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Hospital emergency.

Ambulance.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

The ambulance at the corner.

There was an ambulance at the corner this morning. I almost missed it, but I had to stop for the light. I glanced over to see what they were doing. The light might change at any moment.

There was a homeless man I had seen at that corner before. The brick wall by the gas station shielded him from view. I saw his shopping cart on the sidewalk. The ambulance was parked just beyond. That nameless homeless person was motionless on his blanket, there on the sidewalk with the EMT’s all around.

There was a woman standing nearby holding the leash to her dog. She was staring at the homeless man, lying there so still. We don’t see a lot of homeless people in this part of town. Down on the south side, we see them, but not out north. Lately the homeless are coming farther north, or did he use to live here. Are people up north starting to be homeless also?

While I watched the paramedics rolled the man over. He didn’t seem to move. I wondered was he dead, was he unconscious? Maybe he was mentally ill. Most of the street people are mentally ill. Maybe he was a drug addict, lots of them are homeless. Maybe he was both mentally ill and homeless – or not.

A house near me is vacant. They lost it to foreclosure. This used to be a good neighborhood, middle class, and full of promise, now there are more for sale signs than residents. There are also lots of houses that sit empty, we all know they have been empty for a very long time, just the banks haven’t put the for sale signs, the “someone’s dreams died here” sign, on them yet.

Maybe that homeless man with the shopping cart was the man who used to live on the corner. His house went into foreclosure. Then his wife and kids left, gone to live with her parents. They said he drank a lot and then he was gone.

So I wondered who this unmoving man was by the corner. Why did he go to sleep on the sidewalk last night? Did he die of an overdose or of exposure? Was he just unconscious? They should try to revive him so he could – So he could what, come back to sleep behind the brick wall by the corner?

I have to hold on to hope. Somehow we will find a way to help those who are homeless, those who are addicted, those whose mental illness has taken them from family and friends.  But the hope seems fainter now, looking at that man lying on the sidewalk as I wonder what in his life went wrong.

It would be reassuring to think that being homeless and sleeping on the sidewalk only happens to bad people, people who deserve it. But I know from my own experiences that bad things sometimes happen to people who work hard and try their best. If only I could say he deserved his fate I might not feel so afraid and venerable.

Why do the homeless seem so old, so old and young? Living on the street ages you. I know that. And there are more seniors who can’t pay their bills now. Why didn’t someone help him?  But I know that there is less money now for any sort of help for people, less than we used to have. We needed the tax cuts for businesses to create jobs and now there is less money for people who don’t work.

Is all that stuff on my shopping list really that important? Do we really need more stuff? What does it say about me that I live in a society that appears to values things more than people? Did some abstract thing called a recession cause this or was it a bursting housing bubble that was the cause? Or did this happen because I and people like me stopped caring about other people? I wondered what I should do.

And then the light changed.

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

Want the latest blog posts as they publish? Subscribe to this blog.

For videos, see: Counselorssoapbox YouTube Video Channel