This week in Civic Media, we had the opportunity to watch a documentary about homelessness called On the Streets.
Side note: I am constantly amazed at how many of the topics discussed throughout my various classes at St. Joe’s seem to connect with one another. Vastly different classes, such as Theology and English, seem to connect through various topics throughout my communications courses. (love it!)
This documentary, On the Streets, explored the various areas and communities of homelessness in Los Angeles. By putting personal faces to the severe statistics of homelessness, I was able to connect more deeply with the problems of poverty, lack of job opportunities, and homelessness within our society. Together, these three elements create an unbreakable cycle.
On the Streets brought an even deeper question to light – what does the term homelessness mean to you?
“You don’t call it homeless, you call it houseless…Homeless is a state of mind.”
Through my experience with PSIP and Magis, two service opportunities at St. Joe’s, I learned the importance of addressing those living on the streets not with the label “homeless,” but rather, “those experiencing homelessness.” This important distinction in viewing an individual and recognizing their worth was further expressed in the documentary through the words of a man living on Skid Row: “You don’t call it homeless, you call it houseless…Homeless is a state of mind.”
Many of these individuals featured in the documentary felt strongly about their place of living as being their home. The people surrounding them on the streets are not only their neighbors, they are their community and family.
Another important element addressed through On the Streets was the severity of the constant cycle of homelessness that many families experience. Some individuals begin living on the streets after their caretaker or guardian passes away while others are unable to support themselves after serving time behind bars. Without programs to help these individuals and facilitate the transition from prison to everyday life, they are unable to find a job in order to survive and support themselves. This creates an unstoppable cycle for families and their children, as they are unable to get back on their feet.
I believe that something must be done in order to stop this cycle, and it starts with taking the time to learn about the deeper issues at hand. This includes those elements that are accelerating the cycle of poverty and homelessness within our communities. I also urge you to take time to volunteer with those less fortunate in your community.
Forming those very personal human connections with others in your community can be a life changing experience. By forming a deeper and more intimate human connection with these people, you are able to see through their eyes and place a more vivid face to a truly horrible statistic. That is exactly what On the Streets was able to do for me.
As Jena Lee Nardella says in One Thousand Wells, “I simply loved being the bridge between two worlds that shared the same zip code and yet seemed so different.” You can be that bridge. You have the opportunity to form that connection between two worlds.
thanks for reading