Prior to my own homelessness, I had a great job in the television industry making sure the world received programs like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy along with many other syndicated shows. Before that, I was a professional musician for 26 years making my living playing drums. When I was on the streets homeless and told this to people, do you think they believed me?
Benjamin is homeless on the streets of downtown Los Angeles. He shares a story that may be hard to believe but I believe him. It’s how he talks with confidence remembering circumstances and dates, and as I said, my own story is hard to believe. There is no reason to believe he is telling anything but the truth. Plus, from experience, more often than not people are telling the truth. Yes, the mind may waver on some details. That happens to all of us. Now add the stress of living on the streets homeless. The mind plays tricks on people experiencing homelessness.
But it’s not Benjamin’s past that you need to pay attention too. It’s what’s happening to him now in the present. Benjamin says that homelessness is starting to get to him. The isolation of being on the streets and not having tangible social interactions with other humans is causing him to have in his words “symptoms.” Benjamin says he does “crazy stuff” that makes people think he is on drugs when he is not.
Mental illness is a crisis in this country. If a person does not have mental health problems prior to homelessness, they will develop mental illness. The longer someone is on the streets, the worse their mental and emotional health becomes.
If you’re asking what does this have to do with you, as a taxpayer you pay huge money for each homeless person on the streets. You may not give to panhandlers but you are giving homeless people your money. On average, housing a homeless person saves $20,000 each homeless person each year. Multiply that by the number of homeless people and the yearly savings is in the billions of dollars. Savings of your tax dollars!
Please watch this short video on Housing First.
Housing homeless people saves lives and saves money!