It’s very common for homeless service providers to say “They don’t want our help. They’d rather sleep outdoors and be homeless. They don’t want people telling them what to do. It’s not my fault that they would rather live that way”.
Now ask yourself this. Would you like to have someone tell you what to do? We are supposed to live in a country that gives us freedom of choice but here we are making decisions for those we are supposed to be helping to get back on their feet. They are told when to eat, where to sleep, when to take a shower and then there are the faith based organizations who will require them to attend church services or church activities.
It’s a pretty serious problem when a person would prefer to sleep outdoors, as did I by sleeping in a tent for over 10 years, instead of receiving support from the homeless service providers at the shelters. More often than not, it is all about our dignity and our freedom of choice.
One solution that I see is to take the support services to the unsheltered homeless people by funding and supporting the outreach teams who go into the bushes to visit with and assist those who live unsheltered in tents, abandoned buildings and under bridges. Maybe establish new outreach teams or help existing outreach teams to expand their numbers and programs. As it stands now here in Ft Worth most, if not all, city, state and federal funding goes to the shelters with the outreach teams having to find alternate funding just to do the few things they can. What that means is that as many as 30% of all homeless people don’t have access to the support they need because they decided to use their freedom of choice to live where they do instead of where they are told to live.
Freedom of Choice and Dignity belongs to all of us