Do people choose to become homeless? Seeing homelessness firsthand makes me believe that people don't always choose to be homeless. Sometimes life changes for the worse. People end up in bad situations all the time. People lose their jobs and can't support their children or pay their bills, and they have no other choice besides being homeless. People should have empathy for one another. Homeless people are human and we should still respect them like we do our family or friends. Imagine how you would feel if you were in a homeless person's shoes, never knowing when you were going to eat next or where you would sleep for the night.
Over the past few weeks, I've volunteered at the Saint Barnabas Soup Kitchen to help serve food to homeless and non-homeless people. It has helped me learn how badly life can treat people, and that horrible things do sometimes happen to the best people. We don't expect life to leave us with nothing. Our economy is bad, and some people can't afford to pay their bills. Homeless people have to make the best out of what they have. They don't complain about their lives; they just hope for better. When I look at homeless people, I feel like they don't want to be judged by the way they have to live. How many of you live paycheck to paycheck, knowing that if you didn't have those paychecks, you would be homeless also?
I do believe our government has failed many deserving people, and it continues to do so. For example, veterans, of all people, should not be homeless. These brave men and women risked their lives for our country and our freedom. I don't see how a veteran sleeping on the street feels right to anyone, after all of their hard work and everything they have sacrificed for us to be free.
One of the biggest problems in our area is that our homeless shelter is not open year-round. When it is not open, too many homeless people are forced to sleep outside, sometimes in freezing cold conditions, leaving them open to violence, getting arrested, or possibly death.
On June 22, 2012, President Barack Obama revealed his plan to end homelessness. With loss of jobs and foreclosures, homelessness has risen by more than 50 percent over the past year. Obama's plan will provide permanent housing for 640,000 men, women and children who are on our streets daily. This plan has four key goals. The first is to finish the job of ending chronic homelessness in five years. The second goal is to prevent and end homelessness among veterans in five years. The third goal is to prevent and end homelessness for families, youth and children in 10 years. The fourth goal is to set a path to end all times of homelessness. Personally, I think Obama revealing this plan is one of the best things he could do for our country. Without action, homeless people will continue to struggle.
"No one should experience homelessness; no one should be without a safe, stable place to call home." When I heard this quote from President Obama, I couldn't help but think how much it relates to how I feel about homelessness. No one should have to experience being homeless, but too many U.S. citizens do live their lives in homelessness.
People who are homeless hope for and deserve a better reality.
Tawny Bailey is a student at Southwest Open School.