This is the first year that I can actually say with confidence that I am on a first-name basis with many of the homeless in our city. I had that brought home twice last week. On one occasion, I was sitting in the atrium of the Public Library and two of our clients at the shelter walked by. I knew both of their names and have had interactions with both of them. One of them, I knew something of her story and we’ve talked on a slightly deeper than surface level about the joys and pains of family. On the other occasion, I stopped to get a coffee at the 7-11 (pretty much the only place serving coffee that is open after 10pm on a Friday night) when a young fellow on a bench caught my eye and said hello. My attention had been grabbed by one of his companions, a girl who didn’t look like she could be more than 16 or 17 with a sign saying she was pregnant and needed money. I didn’t know the girl, but I knew him. I knew his name and where he was staying. We’ve talked a few times and he seems like a fun kid who has had his innocence taken away by living on the street and in a homeless shelter.
I don’t know if it is possible to classify a “most tragic” case of homelessness, but the one that always gets me is the working poor. I see so many people who have no mental illness and no addiction issues but, for whatever reason, cannot get together enough money to hold down a place to live. It really sucks to see them on the street or in the shelter. These are the people who are participating members of society and yet they do not get enough back to be able to have a place to live.