A addicted and/or dangerous prevents prudent residents

 A quick visit to urban areas such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Sacramento will bring to light the lurid issue of homelessness. On a clear day, California’s homeless population can be seen sleeping in church doorways, on sidewalks, and outside government buildings of our cities. When it rains or becomes extremely cold, they turn to overcrowded homeless shelters hoping for a dry place to rest. The community involvement, which is often lacking, is the key to finding a permanent solution for those Americans living on the streets of our cities. However, the false perception that all homeless people are mentally ill, drug addicted and/or dangerous prevents prudent residents from reaching out to their less fortuitous community members, which perpetuates the problem. Also, community leaders across the state have tried different solutions, but the number of homeless seems to be increasing rather than decreasing and have never been enough. The actions that community leaders have taken to address the issue of homelessness have proven to be less than meritorious. And still educating the public about the real causes of homelessness is critical to improving and working towards a solution to improve the lives of the homeless. The term homeless describes an “individual living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter … not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport, or camping ground”(HUD). Homelessness is a social condition that personally affects around 564,708 Americans, and indirectly impacts the entire nation. It is a situation that many Americans have struggled with but “few understand the misery of homelessness,” (Lea Suzuki). The false perceptions that many homeless people are mentally ill create a barrier between the homeless and the average citizen. Citizens become adamant in their false beliefs and ignore the facts. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, “homeless single adults do not suffer from chronic mental illness, substance abuse, or other disabling conditions and most are homeless for a relatively short time before reconnecting to housing”. However, “battle-shocked veterans” do makeup “approximately 9 percent of all homeless adults” and “often face invisible wounds of war, including traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, both of which correlate with homelessness”(NAEH). If the bias against homeless people could be erased, the community might come together to help alleviate the problem, and the standards of living for 564,708 people could be improved.  But the public must be informed about the real causes of homelessness and encouraged to help. Community activism and service could change the plight of the homeless and offer appeasement between the homeless and their neighbors. Some programs have been started by religious organizations and other non-profit’s. These programs such as YWAM, a Soup & Hot Chocolate Ministry; GLIDE,  a kitchen serving three meals per day; and Martin De Porres House of Hospitality, a free restaurant,  are all dedicated to serving their community. Many of these programs solely depend on volunteers and according to the National Council of Nonprofits,  “many charitable nonprofits would not be able to conduct programs, raise funds, or serve clients” without the help of volunteers. The programs also survive on donations that, “go to benefit those for whom the money is intended. It receives no Church or government funds. There is no salaried staff and almost no administrative costs”(M.P.H.H). Many of these organizations lack volunteers which highlight once again, the change that volunteers could potentially make if educated. Community leaders have also tried to find new solutions to Homelessness and misjudgments surrounds the homeless. Many of the mayors of San Francisco have tried to win the battle against homelessness by establishing new programs and constructing new housing. Mayor Art Agnos “took the first step in San Francisco to move beyond overnight shelters”(Lea Suzuki). He constructed commodious complexes and provided the homeless with, “substance-abuse counselors on sight”. Other mayors that have attempted to solve homelessness were Frank Jordan, Willie Brown, Gavin Newsom and Ed Lee, who recently passed away. Although many of this mayors tried their hardest to achieve a solution for homelessness, but have failed due to lack of resources and volunteers. Empathy, understanding, community activism.  These are the keys to ameliorating the plight of the homeless. The remedy to helping these individuals lies in educating the public to remove the bias that often prevents community service-oriented people from helping. These lacking of evidence ideas create trepidation and a vexed feeling towards the homeless which may prevent more people from volunteering their time to create a fix.  Education of public through public service announcements and documentaries is a crucial step that must be taken to improve the outcome of volunteers and change the lives of those living on the street, even while a long-term solution is found.