Sunday, July 05, 2009

Specific Help

I am still working to get people off the street, and I have been recently blessed with a position that allows me to help more directly. For the last year, I have been a type of outreach worker/case manager for homeless and addicted people. I have taken people to detox, supervised visits with clients' children, taken people to the gym to work out, visited landlords, assisted with applications, and whatever else. It's a very effective method because my help can be custom-tailored to each client. Every person I work with has different specific needs, and the systematic approach will not work very well for those who are "slipping through the cracks." Only when you take a client to fill out a rental application do you realize that the person is illiterate, or terrified of elevators, or something else. There is no quick and easy fix to homelessness, because each homeless person is a complex riddle that can only be unravelled through patient trustbuilding and loads of one-on-one time.
There are still some general themes and similar problems that many street people share, such as a history of trauma, or addiction. How each person copes or does not cope with these issues, however, can only be discovered through understanding the whole person on an individual level.
I am happier in this job than I have ever been, despite the difficulty. I am impressed that society is finally starting to understand the human component to addressing homelessness. This is not a problem that can be medicated away, or ignored. We are starting to learn that simply connecting with those who are lost is a solution in itself.
Now if we could just get funding for trauma counselling... hmmm....

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