A young man stood on a street corner in St. Paul, Minnesota last Sunday. He was holding up a sign describing his plight, “Homeless, hungry, need help.” He was across the street from a church were I was speaking. I stopped to talk to him and did give him a small donation. I asked him about his situation and he said, “I’ll be honest with you. I became addicted to drugs and I have burned all my bridges. I have family in the area but I can’t go back to any of them.” Some people have no place to go while others have places to which they feel they can never return.
Two weekends ago my wife and I were walking Michigan Avenue in Chicago. On every block there were at least two people holding up signs saying they were homeless and needed help.
Nashville, Tennessee for the last several years has had thousands of homeless people on any given night. It seems today that every city has homeless people begging for financial help. Have we become a nation of beggars? I pause here and say but for the grace of God it could be me. My hope and prayer is that I can avoid homelessness and so can all the people I hold near and dear to me. However, I don’t like seeing anybody homeless.
When we first started out on Michigan Avenue we were in the heart of the shopping center when I saw what appeared to be a grandmother, her daughter and month old baby huddled up in a doorway. The baby had a pacifier and was held by who appeared to be her young mother. I walked by but had to turn around and give them something. “I don’t know how you got to this point but here is a little something. I hope it helps,” I said. They said thank you as they slightly nodded their heads.
As I have seen so much homelessness in our country in the last few years I always wonder how many are truly homelessness and how many are just working the system? Are they collecting welfare and begging too? One man in Nashville a couple of weeks ago said he could not get a job because he would lose his $700 a month check.
Many in America are in dire situations due to drugs. Dependency on heroin and other devastating drugs are destroying people’s health, families and finances putting them on the streets. Millions are dying early deaths due to drug addictions.
Interestingly, everybody I am seeing holding up “homeless” signs are either white people or black people. I have not yet seen a Hispanic on the street begging for food or claiming homelessness, nor have I seen any Asians or Middle Easterners. After this article is published I may hear differently. I haven’t been everywhere.
We have to get Americans off the street. Bumming is not a good use of life. Every city in America must come up with a solid plan for temporary housing and utilizing people into a local constructive workforce. If they are not sick and physically able to do something, then helping the community and contributing something is better than begging on the street.
Glenn Mollette is an American syndicated columnist and author. This column does not necessarily reflect the view of any organization, institution or this paper or media source.