My Dear Readers,
I have an unusual relationship with the homeless who I see everyday as I walk the eight blocks each way from my home to my office and back. One reason I care about the homeless is that for a few months after I had gotten out of rehab and evicted out of my apartment, I was homeless. No, I did not live on the streets or in a shelter- my home was my 325 E BMW. In my car I had everything that was important to me, my computer, my clothes and everything that could fit in the back seat and trunk of my car.
After I got out of rehab, I had no family or friends. After all, who wants to hang out with a former crack cocaine addict? That was 20 years ago. I don’t recall exactly how long I remained without a permanent address- maybe three or four months. But it was long enough to never allow me to forget. Anybody, for countless reasons can find themselves homeless- get sick and lose your job and fail to go to the right government agencies and one can find themselves homeless- regardless of your level of education. I was a lawyer when I become homeless.
So, each day I chat with my group of homeless “friends.” Brad pictured above has been adopted by people in my Baltimore neighborhood of Mt. Vernon. He has fortunately situated himself at the bus stop at Charles Street and Chase Street. At one end of his block there is an old hotel called the Belvedere; across the street is the Chase Brexton Medical clinic- which was a gift to our community by a private charity which was created years ago to give medical care to HIV positive gay men. At the other end of Chase Street is my condo building. Because of the members of these three big entities that dominate our end of the Mt. Vernon Community, Brad drinks designer coffee and eats organic sandwiches and is given clothes and medical care.
I do not write about Brad because we, me, our community has done such a great job. We need to do more. Each day, I see growing numbers of homeless people, many of them young people with their clothes in large see-through bags that they get from the homeless shelters in which to put their items. It is heart breaking.
One of the things that has been repeatedly said by Republicans and the Republican Presidential Nominee is the desire to repeal Obamacare. One of the major components of “Obamacare” is the treatment of mental illness. Many of our homeless are homeless because they are mentally ill. In this country where the 1% owns 94% I hope that our next president will make greater in-roads in solving the many problems of education, the elderly and the homeless population.
My dollar here or there may or may not make a life changing difference to a homeless person. Yes, they may use my money to buy alcohol or drugs- or maybe they just need some food. So, I give them whatever change I can spare. It is what I do.
I hope all of you will join me in making an effort regardless how small to end homelessness- not just in Baltimore or Maryland or America, but world-wide. It’s a big vision, but start with your neighborhood, your community. If everybody does a little bit we can make a big difference.
With light and love,
Brianna S. Clark
Your Fellow Journeyer