Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless
"When I was younger, my family would travel to Chicago several times a year to visit my uncles and that is where I first remember seeing homeless people. I always felt sorry for these people and would give them money when I could, and I felt lucky to have a warm bed to sleep in on a windy Chicago night. But I never thought I had anything in common with them....until I started doing research for this class.
I found several references to a book by Robert Henderson, Jr., entitled The Underground Railroad. I was shocked to read that according to U.S. government statistics over 80% of working Americans will retire poor. Also, Mr. Henderson states that most working Americans are only one or two paychecks away from poverty. That means that if a worker lost his job and had to rely on his bank account to pay for food and housing, he would run out of money within a month or two. Two years ago my dad lost his job when he was "downsized". I knew that money was tight during the ten months he was unemployed, but once I started reading Mr Henderson's statistics, I realized what could have happened to my family.
In class, we talked about both internal and structural causes of homelessness. I used to think that most homeless people probably had some internal and personal issues like drug abuse, limited learning abilities, or mental illness. I've learned that job loss, relationship changes, and being on the wrong end of government red tape can also be causes.
In short, there is no easy way to describe a "typical" homeless person. It could be anyone. It could be me. These are my fellow human beings, and I have much in common with them."