I just read a great article at Bruce Sallan’s blog about the homeless and was prompted to write another segment about the homeless dilemma.
Let’s take a look at the homeless shelter:
- Homeless shelters are often established as transient housing by the state or county. In many counties there are also non-profits (often religious organizations) that provide temporary housing.
- The shelter could be an old apartment house with units.
- The shelter could be set up like an evac center with lines of cots.
- I spent time (as a nursing student) volunteering at a homeless center that had individual cottages for families with a large grassy, play area in the center. The center had originally been a motel built in the 50s.
- Many shelters are for men or women very few are established for families.
- Most shelters have waiting lists.
When I had to look for a place for my daughter and I, our city had a woman’s shelter with two or three bedroom apartments that you share with another mom and her children. My first concern was sharing a domicile for months with someone I didn’t know. The shelter was pretty basic: there were pots, pans and dishes if they hadn’t been taken by the last resident. The furnishings were new in the 60s and fleas and bedbugs were a given. This particular shelter didn’t have a soup kitchen. So on the two to maybe three hundred I would have a month, I would struggle to pay for food, basics (like clothes and toiletries) and transportation for two. Don’t get me wrong, I learned how to live on $300 a month but you don’t save any money to get your own place by living in a shelter. Additionally, most shelters only offer free rent for one month to several months as there are long waiting lists.
I had a friend, across the country, who had to pay rent to stay in a shelter with her daughter. The rationale of her state was “you are getting state and federal subsidies we should get a piece of your measly 400 dollars”.
So with shelters there are several dilemmas: Families often get split up, food can be an extra expense, and the state takes some of the subsidies.
I have not mentioned that many of these men, women and children lived in a nice home months earlier, owned a car, dressed in nice clothes, and ate in the booth next to you in Olive Garden 2 months ago. So the idea of losing job, home and the family is a hard hit.
Please don’t get me wrong if I sound ungrateful or critical. In sub zero temperatures, it is better to be inside and warm even if it’s with the knowledge that your family is across town.
I am grateful that I never had to live in a shelter. The car was my own “space.” The beds and couches of many dear people was so appreciated.
How far does $300 or 150 € get you each month? Could you live on that amount for a month?