If the numbers are accurate the homeless population in Pottstown is getting close to a thousand people! This morning there was a meeting at the Salvation Army on King Street to discuss the problem and find solutions for many of the problems that the Homeless are facing.
You know, it’s one thing to talk about the homeless, but it’s another thing to actually do something productive to stop people from having to live on the streets! We’ve got a bit of a problem in this community if those numbers are close to right. I think we have to get serious about it.
As I drive through town I’ve seen people that I think it’s safe to assume fit into that population. I’ve seen the folks who dumpster dive. I’ve seen the baby stroller filled with aluminum cans pushed around by an older gentleman. I’ve seen folks that appear to be living out of a van with flattened tires. I’ve seen folks bolting into the woods on the other side of the community college. It’s sort of disconcerting to see these folks because they are living in plain sight! They aren’t calling attention to themselves. They are just walking aimlessly till they can get into a shelter for the day, or they are doing their best to clean themselves up in public restrooms.
Our homeless people aren’t all of a type! Some of them seem rather loud and boisterous whereas there are others who seem like haunted shells of people. It’s hard to watch them making their way when you grasp that they probably don’t have anywhere to go. It is also hard to feel comfortable walking up to them to offer help since some of the folks you see are displaying behavior that makes them stand out. It’s probably quite reasonable to leave them be unless you are a professional who can offer them real help, but what does that say about us as a society?!
What is the difference between you and me and homeless folks? Absolutely nothing! The only real difference is they’ve run out of living options. They’ve used their last free stay at a friends house. Or they are using drugs or they are addicted to drink. It might be that they have a beloved pet that they can’t imagine giving away or losing when a rental unit terminates their contract for pets. It might be a family that doesn’t have any money sitting in the bank for a rainy day. Maybe they are young people running away from abusive environments. They could be people that are afraid to move anywhere else. Maybe life hasn’t been to kind to them but they have providers in the area that help them physically or mentally. Homelessness has a lot of faces.
Sadly some of these people might have personality disorders. They might sincerely believe that the world is out to get them! And why shouldn’t they?! They fell through the cracks in the world you and I know!
Today I watched a man for a good twenty minutes. He was sorting cans. He carefully stacked them up on the ground and then he stood and shook out a white plastic trash bag and then he took a small grocery type sack filled with cans and he put it into a larger kitchen trash bag. Then he removed the cans from the smaller bag that was inside the larger one and he put them on the ground again. At that point I was wondering what he was doing and why he was taking so much time to sort. Then I realized that I was watching the same behavior that I could probably find on a Saturday morning in suburbia when guys are out puttering around in their garages, or buffing their cars after detailing them. It made me feel a little sad that I had the audacity to just stare at the man.
I wondered who could help him and I wondered how. And here it turns out that a group was meeting almost at the same time I watched ‘our friend’. I’m very glad that people are thinking about the problem!
I hope there are answers ahead!