Throughout time, homelessness has been, and always will be in the foreseeable future, a tough subject for society to tackle. The negative stigma attached to being homeless gives the homeless little to no chance of changing their situation. Being exposed to the world and business of the homeless in the previous week, I was thrown into a whirl of emotions and empathy. During our stay and our glimpse into the world of homeless, we met individuals whom did not seem “homeless” and could fit into society just as easily as any of us. Previous of actually going to the homeless shelter, having no experience with the homeless, I expected the worse I could imagine.
I expected to see drug addicts and individuals whom looked war torn. What I got were mothers with their children, hard working individuals, and a professor, whom had a Master’s Degree in American History, all down on their luck. I had remember meeting the professor and thinking “Wow anyone can be homeless”, as this thought crossed my mind, a man with an iPhone whom looked like he just got out of work in a construction site happened to pass. As he passed I thought, “Even this random guy”. As the tour continued, the hard working construction worker passed us and proceeded to his room in the homeless shelter, blowing my mind in the process. The whole experience was eye opening. I believed, like many other Americans, that being homeless was solely on the individual’s shoulders and it was their duty to pick up their shoulders and rise from the depths of homelessness. This idea was shattered. The people whom we encountered were not there because they wanted to, because it was convenient or because it was they were lazy; they were aware of negative connotation of being homeless but had no other choice.
Upon our arrival at the sheltie, the workers at the shelter began to vent towards us about how they are grateful that Connecticut is putting homelessness as a priority but the solution is still very young and needed more to mature. For instance, Connecticut has put in a system where any individual can call the number 211 to have an evaluation over the phone so they would be able to put the individual in the appropriate shelter. This sounds like a good system but this system has many problems that are in dire need of fixing. First it requires a phone, the assessment over the phone can take over 45 minutes, and after the assessment, there is a meeting that is required that could take place in a neighboring town and as long as one month away. These are just a few of the problems that have surfaced.
This experience humanized the idea of being homeless and how this is not THEIR problem but its EVERYONE’S problem.