Does Homeless Mean Helpless?

Should you help homeless people? Why or why not.

That’s a tough one.  I think it depends on the situation and the person in question.  Let me explain.  Some people are victims of situations over
which they have no control or have gotten a rotten luck of the draw so to speak and in that case, if you are in a position to do so, then I think you should help if you can.

Some people who are homeless are homeless because they have lost their jobs or gotten sick and overwhelmed and inundated by medical bills to the point that they have lost their material possessions.  It’s not like they did something on purpose to put themselves in their predicament.  Those are the kinds of people that need and I think deserve (not sure if deserve is the correct word but you know what I mean) help.

Then there are people who are homeless because they have run away from situations in their lives like teenage runaways or some people who are mentally ill and may or may not want your help.  If they are so inclined as to want your help and you can, then I think you should help them.

Then there are those people who are homeless by choice.  Yes, there ARE such people.  I don’t know their stories or their situations but I know of a few instances and believe it not, some of those people don’t really WANT help.  They are perfectly content to have dropped out of society and live an unencumbered life of daily existence that people like you or I could probably never even imagine.

The one instance (or example) that comes most quickly to mind for me is the case of a man who frequented the street I used to work on in  Atlanta.  There was a “shelter” so to speak down the street from the company I worked for and in the evenings the homeless could go there to sleep for the night and they were given food and a place to take a shower and sleep and then the next morning they had to be gone by like 8 A.M. and were literally put on the street to roam and try to find a place to hang out for  the day to escape the weather.  If the weather was good you’d see them all through the neighborhood parks or in the library across the street (until they’d get kicked out) or the grocery store next to our business.  If it was bad weather they would crowd wherever they could to escape the elements.

Many, many, times my husband would come to eat lunch with me and he’d park in the grocery store lot and walk over to my job and invariably he’d see the same men sitting around the picnic tables at the grocery store and at first he’d give them each a dollar or so if he had it.  Then it literally got to the point that if they saw our van pull into the parking lot of the store they would practically sprint to get to him first and swarm our van to get a dollar or two from him.  My husband is such a kind and loving man that it broke his heart to see them like that until one day
getting back into the van he saw the same guys drinking beer at the same table where he had given them money at just a little while before.  I guess they finally got smart enough to pool their money to buy a six pack.

Then there was the case where a young girl who worked with us as a receptionist was accosted by one of the men who frequented the area.  She made daily trips across the street to the bank and since it was literally across the street she’d walk rather than get in her car and drive unless there were other errands she had to run.

The first time it happened she was walking out of the front entrance of the bank and this homeless man was standing right outside the door to the bank and he grabbed her hand and tried to force her to touch his privates.  She freaked out (can’t  say I blame her) and ran back across the street to work and called the police.  They came and took her report and told her if she saw him again to call.  She saw him about an hour or so later and called and they came and arrested him.  Before the end of the day he was back on the street again.

He apparently also had been watching her and knew exactly where she worked.  Thankfully we had a security system where you either had to have a key card to get in the front door or you had to be “buzzed in” by the receptionist.  If she wasn’t there one of the other employees would have to buzz them in but unfortunately if you didn’t have the cameras pulled up on your computer you wouldn’t know who it was unless they told you.  He started coming to our office at least daily buzzing the front door hoping someone would let him in.  When he couldn’t get in he’d stand there and beat on the front door screaming and yelling.  She called the police numerous times only to be told that there was nothing they could do about it since he wasn’t “threatening” anyone or physically harming anyone.  She found out from the people at the bank that they couldn’t really do anything either because he was a customer and believe it or not he had LOTS of money and the bank didn’t want to lose such a good customer.

He apparently was homeless by choice and liked living that way.  He came from a family with a lot of money and they had pretty much washed their hands of him and when he’d get arrested they would go and bail him out and he’d go right back to his hijinx.  He would stand outside our office front door ringing the buzzer and if you got the bad luck of the draw to answer the buzzer he’d scream and curse and yell and when you hung up he’d repeat the process until he got tired and then he’d leave.

Then things started getting vandalized.  We’d come in to work and the sprinkler heads would be torn up out of the ground and laid on the sidewalk or we’d find them outside the front door.  Our phone lines would be pulled out of the wall on the side of the building or the cable wires would be pulled out of the box.  At first we couldn’t prove it was him. Then he got so bold as to pull things out of the ground and stand in front of the
security cameras waving the items he’d vandalized and even though there was no audio on the cameras you could tell he was cursing and screaming at the camera.  We had him arrested several times and the cops even told us it wouldn’t do any good because at best they could “lock him up” for being mentally ill or harassing us but he’d either sign himself out of the psych ward or get bailed out of jail so for a long time we
pretty much had to put up with his harassment.

Once he sat outside the front door to our office on a rock planter we had there and screamed and cursed at the top of his lungs.  Our office manager finally got tired of it and it happened to be an afternoon when only she and I were there so she asked me to go out with her and she went out and just told him he needed to leave and not come back.  She told him that she had fired the receptionist (it was a lie) and that since she was no longer there he had no reason to come back because she wasn’t there to be bothered.  I’m not sure why it worked but it did.  He never came
back.  I guess he never bothered to check after that and he didn’t notice that she was still there or he just moved on?  Those kinds of homeless people I do NOT think need to be helped.  Well, obviously they DO NEED to be helped but they don’t seem to WANT to be helped.  Again, it all depends on the situation and circumstance.

What’s YOUR opinion?


About pegbur7

South of the Mason/Dixon Line
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12 Responses to Does Homeless Mean Helpless?

  1. Smaaak says:

    Everybody says, its not their problem. To lock them up takes resources. To put them into a mental facility, takes resources. For taking care of the problem, no one really obviously gains. The citizens can’t do anything much. The authority says its not their problem. The ones in charge says we are too concerned about the elections and looking pretty, so we don’t want to be looking at wasting our resources with these people who will not vote for us and who won’t care anyway, when the economy is at stake, criminals are everywhere. We have more flashbang things to put our attention to. That’s a sad state isn’t it ?

  2. SuziCate says:

    Sometimes it’s hard to know whether to help or not.

  3. Spot says:

    I think its almost impossible to know whether to help or not anymore. As you said, there are a few who have chosen this lifestyle. My rule of thumb is if I have some extra cash I will give it, if I don’t then I can’t.

    I always wonder where these people’s families are? Can’t they help them?


  4. Bankerchick says:

    When it is the same person at the same spot, like my drugstore, I do not help. If it is a woman who comes up to me for money for her kids, I usually give her the benefit of the doubt and help. I one time went into the store with one woman and paid for some groceries, she seemed to be greatful. The crazy, I am sorry but no help.

  5. It’s tricky to see who really needs help and who doesn’t. I won’t hand out money to the people standing on the corner, but I do give to the churches who collect in the intersections. I try to help safely, going through an organization that I know will send the money where it needs to go, helping those who need the help.

  6. In California, a number of years ago, they cut a lot of funding for mental health care. While most homeless people I have encountered seem pretty harmless, we have had a sizable number of violent crimes committed by mentally ill people. I think it’s a shame that the mentally ill are not receiving the help and care that they need because of budget cuts. Because none of us is immune to mental illness, but some of us have medical insurance that will pay for our care and medication. Some do not have the options, or if they have, they are too disturbed to take advantage of them.

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