Reducing homelessness cannot be done by any organization alone. Over 10,000 homeless people reside on the streets of Atlanta. Yes, the social workers have the means to connect these individuals with housing and other assistance. However, organizations such as the one that I co-founded, which visit these individuals on a weekly basis, are assisting as well.
I know some volunteers only go out during the holidays or once a year because they want to make themselves feel like they are doing a good thing. The fact is no matter what the reason behind it, they are helping someone in need which cannot be a bad thing.
I cannot speak for other organizations, but I can tell you that mine truly does connect with the people we serve. We sit down and talk with them eye to eye about where they are from, what brought them to Atlanta, their goals, and how they plan to reach them. In our 16 months of experience, the people on the streets aren’t used to this.
The majority are surprised that someone would be interested in asking those questions. From this reaction, it says to me that what we are doing is showing people that they are worthy of love, support, and hope just like anyone else - and that where they live and what they are going through does not define them. This has given several people the confidence to reach out to the organizations mentioned by Mr. George Chidi in his editorial about homelessness.
We have had several individuals that once lived in the parks receive housing and are now working. They have all said that they couldn’t have done it without our support along with their social worker. Some have even come out to the parks where they once lived, talked to those still living there, and encouraged them to seek help.
If someone who is addicted doesn’t want help, no one can force them to get help. If they want help they will seek it. I hardly think that a sandwich is going to change that.
Reducing homelessness is the goal for government entities, social workers, and non-profits. Working against each other and public shaming isn’t helping anyone. If there is information that can be shared with the people who have their boots on the ground on a consistent basis please share it. We would be more than happy to work together in solving this problem that we are all so passionate about.