Martin has been living on the streets for a number of years. As the case manager responsible for helping him obtain housing, I had concerns about his ability to manage in an apartment of his own and knew that he would need support. However, Martin wanted his own apartment, and ultimately, it was his decision, not mine.
Right before my eyes, I have seen the numbers of people asking for money increase in New Bedford, MA. Seven years ago, you might have seen two or three people a month. Now, there are four at a single intersection every day.
You may ask, how do I interact with these individuals? Do I give money, or will they just spend it on drugs and alcohol? Do I provide food? Do I put my head down and pretend I don’t see them at all? Are they even homeless? Am I being played? Depending on whom you ask, you will most likely get a different answer. The Center for Social Innovation and t3 have a wealth of knowledge about homelessness. So, I asked my colleagues, what do they do when someone asking for money approaches them? There were many different opinions, but five patterns arose.
We see the need almost every day. As we move through our daily routines, we encounter people who are experiencing homelessness. Occasionally we will drop change in their cup or walk on the other side of the street. On any particular day, we may be on our way to Starbucks or to the grocery store when we notice a person who is experiencing homelessness. We sadly lament…it is horrible that a person is elderly and homeless. We stop and think about the horrors of homelessness, especially for elders. Then we continue on our journey...