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What is the true definition of homelessness?

Wed, May 8, 2013

_ARF0413 When StreetWise Vendor Elizabeth Ball-Crudup began writing about her experiences living on the streets of Chicago (read full article HERE), she did some reflection: “Homelessness to me means no structure, no safety, and no security (not every homeless person is the same). But before I wrote this article, I did a little research. I asked these questions: What does homeless mean? What does homeless look like?”

Zoe ZOE KOLON, social work intern at StreetWise, said: “After working with StreetWise, it’s not a black and white issue. It’s complicated. You can’t judge someone because they are homeless. Everyone has a different story and past. It is a complex issue that is not so easily understood. Homelessness is a lack of safety and security, a loss of basic survival needs. These are some of the most vulnerable people, but they are also incredibly resilient and have incredible strength. We can learn a lot from them, if we take the time to stop and listen.”

_ARF0424 DARVIN CHAMBLISS, my husband, said: “Some people are homeless, because they choose to be. Others because they don’t have social skills, mental problems are a big issue, along with drugs and alcohol, acts of God.

Some become homeless at no fault of their own, such as myself.

Our apartment building was set on fire by someone. We didn’t find out until we arrived in Chicago.

I prayed and put the situation in God’s hands and He pulled us through.

You have to have faith and believe and trust that all things will work out, which they did.

You can’t give up, you have to put one foot in front of the other.

I was fortunate that I had military skills that I was able to use and come through victoriously, along with the help of good friends who were there at the drop of a dime.

These individuals are lifelong friends and with their help, we were able to help others keep their faith strong.

It was a long three months but in the end, it all worked out.

StreetWise was very helpful, providing us with hot meals, use of telephones and computers, and also a warm place during the day. Much love to Greg and Patrick, Ron and Jim. May God bless you.”

MarketingProposal SARAH BROWN, StreetWise Managing Director of Programs, said: “A common misconception of homelessness is that it stems from substance abuse and/or mental health issues. In Chicago the largest group of people experiencing homelessness are actually children, with the second largest group being women. Often domestic violence or lack of living wage jobs exacerbate homelessness. Almost always at the foundation of homelessness is poverty and an unequal distribution of resources within society, rather than substance abuse or mental health.”

CHRIS-JESSUP CHRIS JESSUP, aide to Ald. James Cappleman (46th ward), said: “When I think of homelessness, I think of struggles of individuals and families dealing with homelessness. I think of struggles with the economy, with employment, with drugs and alcohol addictions. I think of people’s struggles getting mental health and other medical services. I think of the hurdles and barriers individuals face when they attempt to retrieve birth certificates, state IDs, Social Security cards and other documents.

I think of our communities struggling to address homelessness, addiction, mental health, and unemployment. I think of failed plans, bad services, and misunderstandings. I think of the most diverse population: homelessness affects everyone.”


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