I met Keith while driving around in an outreach van during subzero weather. Keith wonders how he didn’t freeze to death sleeping outside during what is now called the “Polar Vortex”. He continues that he […]


I met Keith while driving around in an outreach van during subzero weather. Keith wonders how he didn’t freeze to death sleeping outside during what is now called the “Polar Vortex”. He continues that he has been sleeping under one bridge or another for over 20 years now.

We offered to help, but Keith didn’t want the help we had to offer. Keith drank 3 beers that day so he would not be allowed into an abstinence based program, and he did not feel safe sleeping at the local low-barrier shelter. Plus, and this is a big one – Keith didn’t want to get a few hours of sleep just to be kicked out the next morning into the freezing cold. He said that going into a shelter just to be kicked out every morning is like having “only half of a house”.

I am still in Upstate New York and the weather report is forecasting subzero weather again. Most of our homeless friends like Keith, who have been on the streets for a long time, have adopted ways of surviving. NO ONE should have to sleep outside, especially when doing so is life-threatening.

We must change our systems so people who end up homeless do so for only a short period of time. It’s unacceptable that Keith has been on the streets for over 20 years. Communities must also work together to provide the right services at the right time. Keith wanted help to get out of the cold, we just were not able to provide the help he needed.

The saying in homeless services is homeless people like Keith are “service resistant”. I think that’s   crap because if homeless services would simply listen to folks like Keith, and then PROVIDE THE SERVICES PEOPLE REALLY NEED, we could actually end homelessness.

Keith been sleeping under one bridge or another for over 20 years now. Click To Tweet
Special thanks to Syracuse Rescue Mission

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    Ultimately it’s businesses and property owners in league with politicians that are the real problem behind keeping people like this nice man homeless. No city or town no matter how big or small wants their city to make life “too easy” for their respective homeless populations. No city or town wants the rumor to spread that, they offer human services and or housing to homeless people. If anything cities, town’s, chambers of commerce and property owners want to spread the news that they are hostile to the homeless. Cities and towns fight to one up each other so they can have the reputation of being the least hospitable to homeless people. The far greater incentive is to make every minute of every day a living hell so homeless people get the message that they need to leave and go somewhere anywhere else.

    Homelessness is being criminalized because; no one wants this poor, dirty, disgusting men, ladies and children in their city bringing down their property values, chasing away potential business. Increasingly Cities and towns large and small are making life unbearable for homeless people. So many cities and towns are saying with one inhumane voice that their homeless members go somewhere else to live, go anywhere else to live you just can’t stay here and live. Where these poor, hopeless, hungry homeless people are supposed to go well no one has figured that out yet.

    Jewish people work to insure the world never forgets the Holocaust but that war has already been lost. The homeless are the new outsiders. The tattered clothing of the homeless, their foul smell, their lack of proper grooming, their lack of employment, their gaunt faces, their worn out shoes among other things are their yellow star of David like identifiers as social outcasts. Police round up the homeless like vermin whenever cities use special events like the Olympic or Superbowl to showcase themselves to the world as ideal places to live, work and play. The homeless aren’t killed in gas ovens and buried in mass graves no that would be too obviously inhumane. No the Homeless are made invisible to the common passers-by. In 2014 tattered, smelly, dirty clothing makes a man invisible. The lack of a proper home makes a man woman or child in severe need physical mental anguish and distress a mere intermittent shadow on the outskirts of your consciousness. The Holocaust of 2014 homelessness is decentralized murder using the economy as a tool. The destruction of the homeless not carried out in a central camp like in World War 2. The homeless die a silent ignominious death one by one in locations more varied than the mind can fathom. the holocaust consuming the homeless has no preference since it destroys, black, white, young old, gay straight and more without issue. Society would have you believe that the holocaust called homeless stalks the unworthy but listen to many of the stories on this site to know that lie for what it is.

    No one hates drug addicts, alcoholics, social parasites and social predators more than I do yet is murder the answer. Is it any less murder because; we use economic policy to eradicate slower minds that for whatever reason can’t make a go of in in our 21st century economy. Computers automation and fantastic engineering has eliminated working class jobs that required just a high school education. The working class jobs are gone and now people with just basic skills have no place in our new economy. What we are witnessing here is an economic holocaust not born of hate but pure economic metrics. People love to say these people need to be retrained but that’s crap too.

    Not everyone can be retrained. Some people are not high technology literate. Some people need simple jobs that pay a living wage. A man with a strong back and not much else used to get jobs unloading trucks and such in my youth. Today trucks are unloaded in almost no time by computerized load management devices. Jobs breaking up streets for repaving once done by gangs of men with pick axes is now done with one or two asphalt grinder trucks. The homeless are people who in an earlier time would have been, elevator operators, operators, meter readers, clerks, doormen, steel producers, manufacturers, parking attendants and more. Millions of jobs are extinct due to automation but what about the people who wanted and needed those types of jobs. Ok I get it captialism is all about supply and demand. Automation destroyed demand for jobs that used to be done by many of those now homeless. but what about the people left behind as a consequence of automation what do we do with them let them die is what we are doing. Homeless people die faster than we who live in proper homes. If we do nothing this economic holocaust that kills invisible homeless people continues.

    The saddest thing this economic holocaust shares with the NAZI holocaust is that while the homeless are invisible to all those housed people scurrying about in cities, towns and states. The homeless are totally visible to police officers and the bum bashers who are nothing more than thugs like Brown Shirts were during the Nazi era. Oh yes this website has it right. The homeless ARE THE NEW INVISIBLE PEOPLE OF THIS 21ST CENTURY ECONOMIC HOLOCAUST. The economic holocaust purges society of anything and anyone deemed incapable to contributing to the economic well being of the nation. To politicians the homeless are a cancer on the butt of society draining our economic life engines of their vitality. In reality the homeless are the hidden picture of Dorian Gray decaying invisibly hidden away showing the real corruption and moral decay of our society as it truly is. The homeless are that troubling reminder of our societies true face so horrid, we console ourselves because we see the homeless only every so often and then only from the corner of our eye.

    Thank God for Invisible People!

  • Claire

    Amen to that! He stated that he wants to quit drinking – people like this man need a lot of support. As in daily, long-term support. Solutions to these problems will require longer than 90 day rehab programs. And it doesn’t do anyone any good to go through rehab just to be put back out on the street. I hope we can be creative and create solutions that are sustainable. Something needs to change, that’s for sure.

  • mtas

    I think his family should help him get into rehab and get help. His family should take him back in and take care of him.

  • Moe Harrison

    I’m 57 yr old I’ve worked my entire life. I’m a skilled worker and for 16 yrs I’ve been a licensed Esthetician , (skin care, waxing) in the past year, I’ve been fired from 2 jobs not because of my skills but because of personality issues with women. Now it’s not coming from my side, I’ve been sober for over 10 yrs and practice humility and kindness everyday. I work hard and do whatever was asked. But some women can be down right nasty and vicious. So my last job which I thought was going to take me into retirement , was sabbatoged by a young 23 yr old woman who just hated me. Everyday little by little she would wait for opportunities to belittle me or insult me. I stll kept my emotions and mouth shut. I even brought her flowers one day hoping to ease her tension with me. Instead, it got worse, until one day the manager called me in early on day and fired me. The reasons are still making me dizzy , there was no real reason just I was not part of the “IN” crowd at the place. I just went through a year from hell, but never gave up. I just moved into a apt which I am sharing with another woman I moved in Sept 15, 2014, I was living pay check to pay check , now with no means to pay rent I am having to leave this apt. I have not on dollar to my name, no family who care, my only friend has exhausted all she can do to help me. So I am faced becoming homeless, it’s something I have always feared I see so many people in my city homeless and I’ve often said “there but for the grace of God, but now I guess God has no more grace for a woman like me. I feel so worthless, hopeless, . In case your wondering, I lost two excellent jobs in the past on with a major Airline back in the 90’s Pan American Airways closed it’s door in 1991. So I re-educated myself and then got a position with Penn State University which after 2008 Federal Budgets Cuts downsized my position (yea, the government was making sure the Bankers didn’t lose anything) I went back to skin care and waxing which is good money but the women you deal with are so catty and immature. So to make this longer story short, I’m about to join the millions of homeless people, how does this happen to hard working people who only wanted to live simply . I use to want to make millions but in the past 20 yrs I just wanted to pay my rent, bill, and enjoy a simple life. I can’t even do that , I wonder if it’s even worth living anymore. I am contemplating suicide but if I end up in the streets of Phila I’m sure to be killed raped or who knows. I’ve never been more frozen with fear yet I do vacillate between being Present and freaking out . I try living minute by minute to keep mind and soul connected, knowing there is a bigger plan at work for me I just can’t see it yet. Anyone have a Oiji Board? I’ practiced beng present and kindness most of the time to everyone and every situation I come across and believe me Philly is a rough town. I keep my head up but for how long does one get sick of hearing such things. All I need is a steady job and housing. When I had the job I didn’t have the housing, now I have the housing and no job, it’s so crazy. Can anyone give me advice on how to live on the streets, I’m not very savy about that, I don’t know where to sleep go to the bathroom or take a shower . My family, well, there very fearful, judgmental people who struggle with their own issues of idenity when seeing me they just hate me. That is the kind of family I come from , so drinking was one way I got to deal with the hate and low self esteem but when I got sober , AA taught me things my parents didn’t so I’m a new person today. One my family can’t stand seeing, I don’t care what they think of me, but to ask them for help ? I get help from strangers before any of them would even give me a slice of bread. Oh yes I havent eaten in going on 3 days, I guess what I want to know is what to do? I’m not suppose to be homeless I am a capable person who has good work ethics . Now my life is in termoil it’s harder to find a job harder to appear stable. Ok that is enough for now, I am terrified

  • Elexsor

    I hope things have turned around and are getting better for you now.

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