WHAT IS HOME:LESS? WHAT DOES IT MEAN? HOW DOES IT AFFECT US? WHO DO WE LOOK LIKE HERE AND ABROAD?
Q: As an advocate for homelessness causes, can you explain how you came to be involved with this complicated issue?
- at birth I was manic depressive and lived through this until I was diagnosed with this and other related issues at 48. THERE WAS early childhood trauma that I never understood. I was deemed retarded by teachers in school and peers bullied me. I was the youngest of my class and this did not help.
- when i did become homeless in the mid 90’s the trigger for the losses was related to my youngest child being in a near fatal car accident at home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was nearly 16 returning for her purse at the YMCA and her boy friend was instantly murdered. At the time Leila was carrying a baby. She was about to enter her junior year of high school. Relationships had always sourd in my life particularly with my children’s mother and there was no communication regarding anything. When I found out about my daughter a former colleague and friend told me, I was in Denver at the time. I rushed home but when I returned to Denver I felt defeated spiritually and personally. I lost everything including attempting suicide for the next 6 years culminating in a coma at a major hospital with an over dose of sleeping medications.
- The day after the planes hit the twin towers and the Pentagon and that steadied me unlike the 3,000 people who had lost their lives mine was still unfolding. I became a public speaker and advocate because the whole thing of being unsafe and unstable is senseless.
- To this day I have felt that the more I know the less I do and I keep studying and working on the nuances of this complicated subject. I speak to groups throughout the region and the country every week. I usually speak to children and ask them what they think and I hear from them that the circumstances of people’s extreme generation to generation poverty is bewildering. None of this is possible here that it has always been this way is even more gripping.
Q: Do you classify yourself as homeless right now? Or how often throughout your life have you experienced homelessness? I was out off and on about 20 years and not at the moment no I take care of a place in exchange for an efficiency.
Q: What have you learned about yourself from this experience? to survive, to trust few far and in between, to be resilient, to have faith to believe in more than my own worth and dignity, to do without, to smile, learn to listen, be still, not give in, find refuge, be forgiving, that we all live in the shelter of one another, that working together no matter what matters more than anything, that one’s life is a gesture that like Shakespeare said is a flickering light and like edna st vincent Millay that my candle burns at both ends and will not last the night but oh my friends and ah my foes what a lovely light, and finally to forgive and live with compassion and teach as much as possible and live with the idea of teaching until the last
Q: What would you attribute to the primary causes of homelessness? no where to live housing
Q: It’s a complex issue, to be sure. But what do you think are some of the key strategies that would make a significant impact for the homelessness community? not permitting people to be wayward and do nothing have housing and purpose with that housing for every single able person and even if you’re aren’t able that you are permitted to do something in community, the community action agencies of the 60’s was a significant motivation for people to thrive. SHARED LIVING ARRANGEMENTS would help and safe havens and ready willing and able programs and programs like Bridgehouse, and places that people could forge ahead with school and community like Ft. Lyon, in Lamar County. THESE MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE in the world, places like Safe Haven, Catholic Worker Houses, options for every single human and family there is no matter what. and with these all trauma care and motivational interviewing as a foundation for building a sense of being able to move on
Q: Personally, I think grief (and the lack of proper treatment available) can be one of the most devastating triggers leading to homelessness. Do you have some thoughts on this?
you are talking about trauma everyone should be listening to Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’ Ted Med talk in 2014 on Trauma in childhood. 7:10 of us experience this episode early on and it plays havoc in everything else. Nadine suggests that her practice was futile until they addressed trauma primarily. Both Motivational Interviewing where a person has opportunities to make decisions and trauma care can turn around a person both personally and spiritually.
Q: Apart from putting a roof over someone’s head, meeting their basic needs, and possibly providing appropriate treatment for mental and physical health issues, what else would you recommend for alleviating the causes of homelessness?
i sited the reasons they start at childbirth like in my case, inflexible educating of people, pervasive violence, racism, police brutality, government denial of required means to care for citizens, the Gini Coefficient that focuses on the increased disparity between extreme wealth and extreme poverty, the inability for us to live as simply not materialistically with an end to all forms of violence of affect and war, of putting children in the cross hairs, like domestic violence and child abuse, these are some of the social conductors but NOTE they are all primarily focused on CHILDREN that is where we must educate and support the parents.
Q: Any other questions you’d wish I asked you?
I WISH THAT YOU HAD AN ANALYSIS between extreme poverty here and abroad and how much people with little if anything in many emerging nations do not fall into the same horrific feeling of worthlessness. It is a dramatic distinction. ALSO
diet is critical, too many providers of food provide junk including the schools. ANY ONE RAISED on soda is doomed not to be able to think unless they are very lucky. Nutrition and growing your own food is significant.
Environment plays a key role in all of this the Koerner Commission report in 1968 spoke volumes about the issue and yet we have done nothing to stem that along with the Community Action Agencies which were founded in the same era.
Chronic diseases that are inherited that show up in stressed people like my two oldest with Multiple Sclerosis and domestic violence, and substance abuse, these are not simply accidental. the morbidity rate should always be stressed first and foremost 20 to 40 years earlier than the norm of life span for people in this society. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?
why is demographics am I at 66 such an anomaly of anyone who has ever been homeless only 7% of the homeless populace.
and given this what is the reason that we all lose our network and that we have impending doom here in America that if we died that no one would know it?
and why are the most significant numbers of people who have experienced being without a permanent place to live unwilling to talk about it like veterans from foreign incursions?
why is it that when you have been homeless you feel that like alcoholism or substance abuse that you are always susceptible to the injury and loss?