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By Carmen Escamilla, San Juan Capistrano
Yes, each homeless person is someone’s relative, and it would be grand if families assisted one another so that nobody would be homeless. But speaking from experience, opening one’s home to a stranger or a relative also requires outside help from agencies to provide an education, vocational training, counseling, medical services, etc., not to mention one’s time and money.
In some cases, the family is also homeless, as was the case with a young man I tried to help. Gave him a room, food; took him to enroll at college and to job interviews, etc. But there was little motivation, and vaping pot was an issue, so after three months he moved with help from a social worker.
Then an in-law ended up in a mental ward. Lost her apartment, her car impounded, belongings had to be sold or stored and after more than 45 days of “help” was released to a group home, where others smoked, drank, did drugs, and got no psychiatric help whatsoever. Welcomed her into our home, fed her, got her a car, gave her structure, and she seemed stable. She was eager to return to her neighborhood in Los Angeles County and claimed to have two jobs lined up and even rented and furnished a new place. Less than two months later, she’s out on the street screaming at cars and got put in another mental ward. Has been released again with no psychiatric help, but because she doesn’t believe she is mentally ill, she refuses to take the medication she needs to think rationally. One cannot help someone who refuses to get help.
In both cases, I believe the dysfunctional families they were born into caused their emotional issues and have direct bearing on bad decisions, which has led them to being homeless. All the love and concern will not eradicate homelessness. It takes time and money, and social and health agencies to provide the guidance and support needed to help those of us who do want to help.