Jay’s story might sound familiar to you. His unfortunate situation is not uncommon these days. He lost his job, then his home to foreclosure, and ended up homeless on the streets of Cleveland, Ohio.
Jay talks about his frustration trying to get help from homeless service providers. Since services have become specialized, he must travel to multiple agencies to get all of the help he needs. But without reliable transportation, he has trouble getting around. Although there are many good things to be said about the Continuum of Care model, it is not perfect. It does not, for example, fill in all of the communication gaps or take into consideration the lack of access to reliable and easily accessible transportation.
Imagine for a moment that you are homeless without income. You panhandle for bus fare, then travel to the agency you believe is most likely to help. You fill out the paperwork and sit in the lobby all day. After hours of waiting you are told you don’t qualify, or the program is full and your name will go on a waiting list. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a bus pass to get home. Either way, at the end of the day, you’re still homeless without housing or food. And you have to repeat this process – over and over – until you find the help you need.
Of course, this is a worse case scenario. It’s important to remember the many instances when the safety net works, when it saves people from the streets.
Still, in some cases – like Jay’s – people just give up. Perhaps his story will help you understand why.