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Helping the Homeless?

We see them every day, the "homeless" begging for money on the street corners, freeway offramps, in front of stores, etc.

People being people, feel sorry for people who are homeless and want to help those who are going through hard times. The real question is are you really helping by giving them money? But more importantly than that is whether those claiming to be homeless are really homeless.

There is an old saying that if you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, if you teach him to fish, you feed him for life. By just giving money are you doing much of anything other than helping them survive another day? Are you sure that they are using the money in the best way possible? What you are helping them to do is to live off of the kindness of others. While some people on the streets are there because they can not work, others might not have the same problem and instead find that it can be a well paying job.

The most important question is whether the person is really homeless. I heard about one case in Burbank, CA in which a woman would normally be in front of a Vons store. A reported felt sorry for her and wanted to see where she stayed and how she lived, so one day she started to follow this woman. Imagine the reporter's suprise when this "homeless" woman got in a brand new BMW. It seems that being "homeless" can pay really well, especially when you consider that it is tax free since most homeless people don't report the income. This is not the only case that I have heard of in which the homeless person is not really homeless. There are actors and actresses in the movies and on TV who do a good job playing a role. There are also people, basically con artists, which play a role on the streets of our communities.

Another interesting aspect recently came up. The question is what is the goal of helping the homeless? It seems that for many people it is just a matter of making themselves feel better when they give the money to someone, as well as hoping that the person feels better.

Giving the person money does not help them change their situation. It does not give them an address in which they can receive mail, nor does it give them a phone number. All of which is needed if you really want to find a job.

If you want to help homeless people, then find a shelter which not only provides shelter, but also helps them get off the streets and improves their situation. Just giving a person food and shelter will not help them improve their situation and isn't that what you really want to do when you give them money and try to help them? Perhaps not. Perhaps it is not really about helping them, but just making yourself feel better.



Index for Insanity, Inc.

Written: 02-Dec-2004

Updated: 31-Mar-2007

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