San Francisco Homeless People Still Have Hope That Organizations Can Make Their Lives Shine Again

This article has been translated from Spanish to English. Read the original HERE!

The challenge of how and when 
continues to be 
the dilemma 
of a society 
that is desensitized 
to the crisis of homelessness

People in a crisis of homelessness have great physical, psychological, spiritual, and emotional stress. Being exposed to life on the streets and the uncertainty that condemns them to confront inclement weather and the scourge of hunger, cold, disease, drugs, white slavery, hate, violence, and other manifestations of social decomposition that degrade and violate them.

The government bureaucracy and its indifference to administrative reforms to prioritize assistance to our homeless community is disappointing and frustrating, even though we do not know if it is committed by omission or commission. But what we do understand is how people in a crisis of homelessness are turned away, a deep anguish, where their cries for help are drowned in despair and a depression that condemns them to survive or die trying to be rescued. Simplifying the process for homeless people to get help should be everyone’s commitment. In this way, we can start to heal the person in distress, always in a dignified and less bureaucratic way and with the firm commitment to provide assistance and help our homeless communities re-enter life in society .

Eradicating poverty and homelessness is a challenge and task for all individuals, and private and governmental institutions. The insensitivity of people who live in a society that faces the challenges of individualism, consumerism, social networks, and other deformations affect the sense of solidarity.

The violence, public insecurity, drug trafficking, corporate greed, and displacement through gentrification alters the dreams of our local communities, because their goals become more unattainable, opportunities disappear, and a cycle of frustration begins. Consequently a different future arrives, but with poverty and pain. Thus in many cases, people begin to become destitute.

The suffering of people trying to find a “home”, a job, and help from our government offices sharpens and postpones people’s ideals of living. Meanwhile, society comes and goes, looking at these homeless people every day, forgetting their faces and ignoring them. They see them as shadows that should be taken care of by the government and charities, and not as their responsibility: “I pay so much taxes and these streets do not disappear!” 

People do not want to help these homeless people, because it delays their own life plans. They look at these people as a bad example, as something that could happen to them if they do not move away from poverty and everything that means emotional and social weakness in the search for wealth or demands of modern life. Thus this society continues its path, looking, listening to our homeless, without any empathy as they get used to this “normality”. Which is not good from any human perspective.

Racial hatred, xenophobia, and the most inhuman and insensitive indifference of the people who look down at them and throw them a coin of contempt is another very powerful reason that makes people not stop to think that each shadow is a life, a human being at a disadvantage and who needs protection and help. 

For all this we must change the policy of having to fill out long questionnaires to get help when we are in a crisis. The people staffing these bureaucracies say “in a month we will see if you have a place to sleep, or an appointment for medical treatment, or some place to eat, or some training to continue being productive until you achieve your stability and resume your lives again.”

While the people in a crisis of homelessness need help that same day, the bureaucracy delays and distances them, affecting not just individuals. The saddest thing is an entire family in despair—they may once have had a home, a job—but the adversity that could also reach us forced them to live in homelessness.

These people and their shadows wander around the city looking for a place to call home. Every day, every night people find ways to shelter at the train stations, at the bus stops, parks, by garbage cans. People sleep on the buses that serve as home for a couple hours while the route lasts, then get off at the end of the route to take the next one, waiting for dawn to come, then return to being the shadow that wanders looking for the next “home”, or a hand that helps them get out of this labyrinth, always aimlessly.

The bureaucratic municipal system was created for other times and not the challenges of today. Without initiative and only with the bureaucracy, they organize their systems theoretically and without interest in the experiences of those they claim to be serving. The prejudices and demeaning stereotypes that are used against homeless people are immeasurably unacceptable. We need to connect in good faith, to incorporate and seek creative, dignified, and compassionate solutions to heal and protect the person in crisis. 

The experiences of survivors of homelessness must be the cornerstone to understand this deep and complex social problem. The wealth of experience in how to overcome homelessness must be summoned, and programs meant to help homeless people should be designed with their voices and opinions at the center.  

Homelessness is often used as a pretext in political campaigns but when promises are not kept people become detractors, attacking the laws and proposals that should be helping pull people out of homelessness.

Finally, human beings experiencing homelessness in our cities and neighborhoods are just waiting for an opportunity to achieve their dream of finding a safe and dignified home. There needs to be a process to definitively transform the lives of people experiencing homelessness so that they can again undertake their own destiny, helping themselves and helping others so that the shadow of homelessness does not take them away from happiness and peace.