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Life Arts    H4'ed 5/17/13

How To Really Conquer Homelessness

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Message Dan Abshear

to me

After three and a half years, I'm no longer homeless.
Last September, someone finally hired me for a part time job.  I'm now an installer with American Greetings.  Me and my team disassemble and build greeting card displays in various stores.  the job involves a lot of physical labor, so i'm thankful I'm able to do this kind of work.  Also, I'm the youngest member of my team.  This allows me to contribute greatly to what is required when we we work together.  And I also enjoy the travel with this job.
Because I now have income, I'm eligible for government assisted low income housing.  The government determined I'm chronically homeless, and this allowed me to move into a one bedroom apartment a few months ago.  Because I'm a military veteran, the process was accelerated with getting this housing.  I'm not disabled in any way, so my job is my only source of income.
My apartment is very quiet and comfortable.  My neighbors here are nice people, and are in similar situations as my own.  After living with several men in various crowded homeless shelters over the past few years, my apartment is totally awesome.  And very affordable, thanks to the government paying most of my rent.  My girlfriend and I now have a place to spend time together.  I'm also now able to cook my own meals.  I still thankfully received food stamps, which I need since I only make eight dollars an hour with my part time job.
Before becoming homeless, I was living in my 250,000 house and was never concerned with receiving help in order to exist.  So I'm very grateful there is help out there for those who find themselves with nothing suddenly.  And I still strive to progress in some way to improve my situation.  But the process is very slow when you are starting from the very bottom.
Progressing in some way I feel is necessary when you are homeless and often broke.  Many I stayed with in homeless shelters had some sort of income.  Usually their source of income was some percentage of a disability they are determined to have.  Yet their income is not enough to be self sufficient, which should be the ultimate goal of a homeless person.  Which is why various government homeless programs should be accessed and acquired by those living on the streets are in homeless shelters somehow.
Then again, some seemed to enjoy living in homeless shelters.  Some at these places would just sleep and watch T.V. all day- treating their stay in a homeless shelter as if it is a jail sentence.  In fact, some I met staying in homeless shelters would actually find ways to go to jail so they would have a place to stay.  Many I met at these places have been homeless for a very long time.  Their souls appear to be dead or dying.  You can feel this atrophy of their essence when with them at times.  At least I can, I believe.

A Homeless person sleeping under a tree
A Homeless person sleeping under a tree
(Image by Jeffrey Beall)
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A Homeless person sleeping under a tree by Jeffrey Beall

However, also at the homeless shelters where I lived, I met some rather inspiring people at such places.  Quite a few somehow had jovial dispositions, and were a pleasure to know.  I suppose when you find yourself with nothing, one way you can react is with expressing happiness.  This is possibly due to the fact you are amazingly still alive.  Such people also had an energy and kindness about them.  They conquered their despair and sadness by striving to make others happy.  This is very cool.
So I believe that to live through the hell of homelessness you might find yourself in for whatever reason, you need to find a way to set your soul on fire a bit.  Once that happens, you are able to focus on what needs to be done.  And you also increase your efficacy to progress with your life.  You are then alive once again after being destroyed in some way.  Make that the ultimate goal you strive for if you find yourself homeless.

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My intrinsic pain has become annotated. Before my life was wrecked about 3 years ago, I was involved in pharmaceutical sales with very large corporations. I did this for about a decade. Before that career, I did patient care for about a (more...)

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