by Stephanie Turner
I have worked at Crossroads for over seven years and have seen my fair share of people who have walked through our doors in complete desperation. I have learned that everyone has a story.
Sadly, most people that we serve have lost their identity as human beings and it is evident upon speaking with them that they are often ashamed of themselves and feel as though they are a failure to their families, community, and society.
Often, you and I may take for granted our own personal circumstances. Most of us do not have to worry about where we will sleep, where our next meal is coming from, or if we will be able to purchase school supplies for our children.
Our society tends to negatively label the homeless population as unworthy and undeserving because they are perceived as being lazy, crazy, drug addicts and alcoholics.
We do not stop to think about the true causes of homelessness and how they correlate with systemic issues such as poverty, inequality, racism, crime, and lack of education. We do not think about trauma and how it can change the chemistry of the brain and how a person responds; and by the way, I am not referring only to physical trauma - I am referring to sexual abuse, domestic violence, and deprivation of basic human needs such as food and shelter.
Instead, we blame people for their mishaps. Essentially, the message we convey is that homeless people do not deserve basic human rights and dignities, which include having a place to call home.
I would like each one of you to take a moment next time that you see someone that you perceive as being homeless and remember this: that person is someone’s mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, grandparent, or child.
They deserve dignity, respect, and most importantly, a home. The intense passion and commitment that Crossroads and other agencies like us have is what keeps people in housing. The support and advocacy of the community including that of local, state, and federal government entities is what keeps us going.
Housing, along with human compassion, is the key to ending homelessness.