Doing street outreach the past couple of weeks at homeless camps in Greensboro (and at a tent city with multiple homeless camps), I’ve seen long-familiar faces and lots of new faces. I’ve seen homeless camps spring back up in places that had emptied out for a while. I’ve seen homeless seniors and homeless teens. Homeless men and homeless women. Multiple races and ethnicities. On everyone’s wish list: jobs and housing.
But there’s the unspoken: mental illness, alcoholism, addiction, trauma, family dysfunction. Obtaining or maintaining a job or housing is difficult (and out of reach for some). A number of folks I’ve seen just this week are newly released from jail or prison. Their chances for jobs and housing seem to rise and fall with the economy.
I think of the words a homeless friend once said to me, “If we could get a job, we’d have one.” And another, referencing Greensboro’s wealth of free meal sites and dearth of affordable housing, “We appreciate the food. But you can’t cover up with a chicken wing.” True word.