Last month found me at the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference. The keynote was delivered with elegance, wisdom and heart by First Lady Michelle Obama.
To sum it up, the conference was a rip-roaring success. Ending the cycle of homelessness is what I’m about and what my personal goal is with my book, The Concrete Killing Fields. It’s where I belonged on those three hot days in Washington, DC. At the end of the conference, I spent a few hours on the streets. My new companion was Angie-a 40ish woman who was obviously very bright. The three hours I spent with her went by quickly.
Her journey to the streets came through her head … she was bipolar, one of the first things that she told me. When I first starting speaking with her, I thought I had her fixed … permanent supportive housing was a possibility. The more we talked, the more I realized she wouldn’t fit–she wasn’t chronically homeless.
“What?” say you. Well, my friends, to be chronically homeless, one must have slept on the streets or an emergency shelter for at least a year or longer. Angie was shy 362 days … this time. The rest of the times, she cycles in and out of relatives’ homes … homes that she is no longer welcome.
Welcome to the cycle of homelessness. Angie was busy wearing out her “welcome” everywhere she went. What’s the solution? For Angie, she needs her own home. For the system needs … money. It needs funding. For housing and mental health services. Much more than what it goes now, not less.
Pat Morgan is the author of The Concrete Killing Fields and an acknowledged expert on homelessness. Get your copy at your local book store or through Amazon.