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TOPIC: WTF
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Here's a (slightly) flip side homeless story...

There is a group of gutter punks (5-10) that often hang out and panhandle at the intersection near a grocery store I sometimes go to. They take turns on the corner holding up a "homeless and hungry" sign to gather change from the cars that get stopped at that intersection while the others rest in the shade.

I NEVER give the gutterpunks money BUT if I see them out there on my way into the store I pick up a bag or two of mixed fruit. When I pass them upon leaving I hand them out to them. They now recognize me and when they see me pulling up to the corner they all start jumping up and down and yelling excitedly "fruit lady, fruit lady..." and thank me profusely for the food.

That could go into happy thoughts :-)

~rabbit~

New Orleans LA
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I've done homeless outreach as part of former jobs, and as a volunteer outside of employment.

I don't usually give money to these guys if they accost me on the street. I have enough deadbeats in my wife's family that I have to fight off.

I think that we are in substantial agreement that these people exist. Just the frequency differs.

My point is that we should not stop helping those in need because of the idiots. There are idiots in all systems.

I don't think you are saying that either, but it needs to be emphasized imo.

And HFT actually has a point for once. The attempted mainstreaming of mentally ill into society is a dismal failure.

Fullerton CA
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As for such a person rarely landing in your office, tbr...

Why would they? If someone is determined to have a drug problem, or mental health issues, they are sent to someone such as yourself. But if they are just a lazy asshole who won't do *anything* for themselves? Who do those people get referred to? "Excuse me... where do I go for the lazy asshole appointments?"

And, even if they were referred for help, why would they go? The very nature of their problem means they would want nothing to do with you and your "help" (as they'd see it). They don't care about your help or what you have to say. Unless you're giving them money or something they'll just walk out the door.

That is just how it seems to me. I doubt I'm totally off on this sort of thing, but I could very well not appreciate the efforts you'd go through to find people who need help, as you looking for them is the only way I'd imagine you'd make contact with them.

Windermere FL
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The State Of New York, years ago released so many inmates with mental issues. Those people ended up on the streets and homeless. Some government when the great State of New York can do that. Where did these professional idiots thing these inmates were going to end up? No care or supervision. WHAT A DISGRACE.

Thornton CO
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"I think that the type of person you describe is rare in the homeless population. You think it is more frequent. Our perception colors our willingness to help. "

I didn't ascribe a frequency to this kind of person, and I'm certainly not saying they are a majority. I don't know if they could be considered "rare". Maybe a third.

I know you have dealt with homeless people a lot more than the average person, but I have too. I think most are some combination of addiction, mental illness and personality disorders, with some people drawing off differing proportions of all three. I think you see it that way too.

I'm speaking mostly of the chronically homeless, not the kind who sleep in their car for a weekend to bridge situations, or people like we were in late 2014 stuck between housing living in a hotel (which, actually, is considered "homeless" by the Census Bureau).

Windermere FL
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I know, multi-part ranting...

I lived in Ottawa and worked downtown for five years. Most of the time I rode my bike in the summer, but took the bus if the weather was bad or during the winter. So I'd walk about 6 blocks from the bus to my work.

I'd be confronted with at least 10 homeless people every day. Some the same, some rotating. The ones who recognized me stopped asking eventually, but the ones who didn't would constantly hit me up for money. If you'd hold still long enough they'd tell you they haven't eaten in X days, etc. While standing outside of the church shelter they are staying in. Logic doesn't flow strong in their brains, I guess.

A girl I worked with sometimes was on the same bus and we'd walk together. She would occasionally give a buck or two to these people and chastise me for not doing the same. I told her that they weren't hungry - they had 3 meals a day from that shelter. She insisted otherwise.

So one day, I opened up my bag and took out a triple decker turkey and bacon club sandwich that I had brought for lunch and offered it to this homeless guy. He took it and threw it across the street and told me to fuck off.

She blew the exercise off... insisting that he probably doesn't trust me and thought I was trying to poison him. Or something. But still believed that what she just saw meant nothing.

Now I don't know about you but if I was as hungry as that guy says he was I might not even notice the plastic wrap on it and eat it in seconds. Nope "I just want some money".

I have another one for you..

This guy pulls up outside my house in Virginia while I'm mowing the lawn and gives this loooooooong ass speech about how he needs $5 to get gas to drive to Virginia Beach to see his daughter (about 20 miles away). All kinds of going on about how he's a Christian blah blah.

I wanted rid of him. I didn't have any cash on me (I was outside in lawn-mowing clothes) but I did, in fact, have a gas can. I put 2 gallons of gas in his car.

He then said "I also need five dollars". I told him no and he said "fuck you" and drove away.

EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN NEED I have helped has lied or spurned my efforts. Never a thank you, never anything. Once in a while I do this to myself to remind me as to why I look at people this way.

Windermere FL
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And this is really the age old dispute with this issue.

People have a propensity to see what they want.

I think that the type of person you describe is rare in the homeless population. You think it is more frequent. Our perception colors our willingness to help.

The truth, if there is such a thing, probably lies somewhere in the middle...

Fullerton CA
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It is people like this one I just described that make people like myself totally cynical. On the generic level, most of us - once we realize that these people are real - just want to say "well then you can starve to death. I refuse to give any more help to someone who refuses to do anything whatsoever."

I'm surprised some of these people expend the energy to breath, expecting the oxygen to be given to them by someone else....

Windermere FL
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Let me tell you the most ridiculous story... this story is absolutely true.

A young man has nowhere to go. He begs anyone to take him in. His grandparents do so. They give him a room and food. They present him with a bed with clean sheets to put on it.

They find that he is sleeping directly on the bare mattress, nastying it up. "Please", they tell him, "put the sheets on the bed". "Alright", he says.

Two weeks and daily requests go by. The sheets remain folded in the corner. They corner him in his room and tell him to put the sheets on his bed NOW. He tells them "FUCK YOU" and walks out the door.

He comes back later and crawls onto the still bare mattress.

They tell him that if the sheets are not on the bed by the 30th, he is thrown out. The day after the 30th, they threw him out.

Windermere FL
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I am impressed. I honestly didn't expect anyone to see that side of things here.

This is what I meant when I said that some people "choose" to be homeless. Homelessness is really the only way one can truly be "free". We are all bound by responsibility - we are free but within certain limitations. We establish an equilibrium with our surroundings and rules.

Some people refuse to accept this. It's not that they won't TAKE a free house or TAKE free food, but they want to set the terms of it.

Imagine presenting someone with this deal: "I'll give you a free house with food in the cupboards and pay all of the bills. The only thing I ask you to do is to keep it clean. I'll even pay for the cleaning supplies."

Almost anyone would take that deal. But you'd be astounded by the fact that you'd find the house turn into a total shithole in the hands of some of them. No matter what you're asking them to do, no matter how reasonable their end of the bargain is - they will NOT do it, because doing it would be doing what you told them to do. They will let you come back and find it a trash dump and make you throw them out.

What hope is there for anyone like this? I'm not talking about mental illness or addiction. I'm talking about someone who refuses to follow any rule no matter how small or reasonable. These people are real and they exist.

As I've said, I am not oblivious of these people. I ate at a shelter with one just five days ago, although this individual isn't quite at the point of refusing to eat at a shelter, he is at the level of refusing to so much as clean the free room you'd give him, choosing to sleep outside rather than do what you tell him.

I've met and talked to many of the other people there, this time and in times past. I see all of the issues - mental illness, addiction, etc. But some also have these wild expectations that they can do nothing and have everything just happen to them. To them, everyone is "stupid", except of course themselves and the other non-stupid transients living in a shelter.

Windermere FL
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