Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Why won't the homeless go to the shelters?

by Randy Cox

The nights have been dangerously cold and the authorities have shown a rare concern for the homeless over the last few weeks.  They arranged shelter and transportation, but many of the homeless shun their help.  The talking heads just can't understand it.  Why won't the homeless go the shelters?

I was going to write a blog about it, but while researching and reading a good response from a literate street person, I realized that regular people don't really care anyway.

Sometimes decent, intelligent people fall through the cracks and find themselves on the street.  It doesn't take them long to find out the shelters are designed for alcoholics, drug addicts, and the mentally ill.  The shelters  require their guests to come in early, eat, then stay put until morning. 

In the morning the guests are driven out at daybreak after breakfast and not allowed back in until check-in time.  The guest is allowed a minimum of personal possessions, so for those who have more than a bag or two of junk, there is no place for them here.

Even if the down and out has only a few nice items, the shelter is a perfect place to lose what they have left.  These places crawl with thieves and bullies that will take whatever attracts their fancy.  It is easy to get in a fight at the shelters.  Fighting is a good way to find oneself in prison.  If you can't afford a good lawyer, a bad one will be appointed for you.

Street people know they can freeze to death on the streets, but that can take time..  Death can come suddenly in the shelters.


  1. Thanks for signing our nonprofit blog. This article hits the nail on the head. I've linked to it from my personal blog. Hopefully, a lot of people will read what you have written and take the information to heart.

  2. You know I so get this. Totally. I was homeless for longer than I care to think about and I toughed it out rather than risk a shelter. I spent a winter tucked under a tree buried in snow behind a funeral home one year because "the man" didn't get it. Then again they never do. Scary thing is they used to, many years ago things worked better, and then Reagonomics started destroying everything.

    Sad. Regrettably true. I'm housed these days, but I'm still living a strange life even though I have an apartment. It's kinda homeless chic look to it and I still have all the anxiety and fears that one day it's gonna be gone again.

    Yeah, death and abuse comes quickly in shelters. Plus the stresses you described, it's so much easier and safer to dig in and hunker down somewhere if you can.

  3. This is why I think soup kitchens provide such great roles. Giving people needed supplies. It is still so sad that anyone must face this though.