I read an article last night about a woman who wanted to "hose" down all of the homeless that lurked near her place of business. The author of this article tackled the stigma of this woman's comments and took the time to not only stand up for the mental illness community but show just how deep seeded the stigma against us really is. The business owner's quote was, "These people should not be on the street,” she said. “They should not be allowed to sleep in the street. They should not be allowed to be out in public with mental disorders, if they have them, or if they’re drug addicts, they need to go away.” She continues “People like us are going to get angrier and angrier, and without the proper police support, we’re going to start to take things into our own hands. Which means people are going to get hosed down. Like, if I was Dania, I’d hook up a hose and hose all [the homeless people] down in the morning.”
The article I am referring to his here :http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/borderline/2013/07/hose-em-down-mental-illness-and-homelessness/ written by Becky Oberg. Sensational thought provoking post and if you have time you should read it.
I was saddened and then angered that such callous remarks are made towards not only the homeless population but also the mental illness community. It hurt. I would like to her and others with the same ideals, Shame On You!
Then I realized with all the talk of free health insurance, disability, and welfare really angers some people. There are hundreds of quotes and angry comments about welfare in general. Now, I am not going to lie and say some people do not use the system. Some do, and it is down right wrong. I am however, aware of how the welfare system is set up to help disabled individuals. A lot of disabled individuals have mental illness. The process to be accepted for SSI can take several times.
The payment varies from state to state but the average for a single disabled adult from the federal government is around $710 a month as of 2013.
In Seattle where the business owner is located the average SSI payment is $750. The average one bedroom one bathroom apartment for Seattle according to http://www.seattle.gov/oir/datasheet/quality.htm in 2010 was a whopping $1,024 a month.
Now there might be cheaper apartments but I can gather that you have an idea where I am going with this. Yes, there are halfway houses and HUD. HUD in Seattle is run by a lottery system that is only open for new applicants a short time each year. The waiting list is usually two to three years to be placed on the lottery system. And that is just Seattle many cities have waiting lists that go all the way up to a nine year waiting list. What does this mean?
You may need to live in a motel. For a single person on welfare in Seattle in 2011 the food stamp average was $120 a month according to http://realchangenews.org/index.php/site/archives/5860. Food stamps do not pay for things such as toilet paper, underarm deodorant, tooth paste, Kleenex, cleaning supplies, soap, shampoo, dish soap, sanitary napkins, ect. It only pays for food items and therefore everything else comes out of the SSI funds that you receive. According to the USDA the average monthly food costs for a single adult ranges from $150-$300 according to http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_average_monthly_food_cost_for_one_person_in_the_US
That is just the population that have a place to live. Homeless shelters are over run. Most of them are closed during work hours and only open at night. Where do you expect these people to go? They have no place to be but the streets, parks, and alleys.Get a job you say? That would be awesome if everyone were able to physically get a job and keep it. It is not however, a reality. Did you know that in Cincinnati the wind chill had to be 9 degrees before the cold shelters would open to keep the homeless warm? It has since changed but just to give you a heads up, they suggest you do not leave dogs and cats outside when the temperature is 32 degrees and lower. It will kill them.
20 to 25 percent of homeless people suffer from severe mental illness. Regardless, if the homeless have mental illness or not they are still people. Some one's brother, child, parent, uncle, aunt. These are someone's loved ones or even worse these people may not have any loved ones at all. Treated like scum, ignored, spat on, and apparently soon hosed down. Treated the way most people would not treat a stray animal. It is sad. It is wrong. Most importantly it speaks to how the system has failed not only the people trying to live under the poverty limit but also the mentally ill. Yes, in some cases the sufferer may refuse to take their medication or receive help. Does that mean they deserve to be locked away and forgotten? Hosed down? Treated like an animal? It makes more sense to me to open up therapy and centers to help these people with some form of assisted living programs. Out reach groups that struggle to support themselves to help not just the homeless but the overwhelming amount of mental illness sufferers that are filling up our jails and prisons because they have no where else to go. Give these programs the money you would give to build newer stadiums.
The statement that people with mental disorders should not be allowed to walk the streets is just another form of stigma that has been perpetuated throughout history. This lady is obviously unaware that people with mental disorders walk down her street everyday, and they are not all homeless. One in four Americans suffer from mental illness. How many people do you think walk down her street to go to a store, their car, or their jobs everyday?
On a side note I think it would privy for this woman to know that one in three Americans are one paycheck away from being homeless. One paycheck.
Last year there were more than 62,000 homeless veterans in our country. More than 62,000.
In 2011 more than 500,000 families used a shelter at one time or another. Families, that included children.
This system is broken. It is obvious to any and everyone that has eyes and can see. These people need help and our funds are going to things that are not helping as much as they could. This is not just a mental illness issue. This is an addiction issue. This is a housing issue. This is a employment issue. This is a human issue. This is a caring about someone else issue and this is a people issue.
Hosing down human beings is not the answer. Hating or judging others because you are better off right now solves nothing. What if God forbid you woke up and your place of employment was gone and you lost your home? What if you served our country and came back with PTSD and could no longer work and found yourself on the streets? What if your mind is tortured and you SSI could not cover your expenses to eat, buy toilet paper, and rent an apartment? Would you be so righteous about homelessness then? I think not.