Did you know that you have the right to be released to the streets? Even if you are incapable of caring for yourself, you have the right to be dropped off anywhere you choose. It doesn’t matter if you can barely walk or think clearly. You have the right to deny care.
Chronic homelessness has multiple layers of trauma. Your brain is in survival mode. Your ability to think past finding your next meal or place to sleep is no where to be found. Many are unable to advocate for themselves. Such was and still is the plight of our guest we posted about back in May.
We were so glad to see him return to a facility to recover, when just a short time had passed and he had been released to the outdoors. Yes, that’s right. At his request, in his very disabled state, he was able to verbalize to take him and his walker to the place he was used to living outside. It was familiar to him and he also didn’t have an understanding how dangerous it was in his condition. His speech was slurred, and his is ability to walk was greatly challenged. His lack of coordination to feed himself still did not immediately bring the intervention he so needed.
When I heard that he was back outside, I drove after work to the place I used to take him food. He was still there! I had located him and explained in front of friends the dangers of him being there. He needed to recover and it wasn’t going to happen living outside. Even his friends urged him to go back to the hospital. While leaning against his walker underneath a tarp, he insisted he would be fine.
Since then, The Father’s Heart has worked with outside outreach specialists, relationships with other houseless friends, other agencies that have relationship this individual throughout his years of living houseless. We are getting so close to helping our houseless neighbor get into a place where he can work on rehabilitation, be safe and be close to resources that will help him live a better quality of life.
While we anticipate that he will soon receive the shelter and the care that he deserves, we remain frustrated at the failures of “the system” that is supposed to be helping individuals. It seems that it’s never fast enough and more damage from more trauma incurs as the barriers to needed care are slowly overcome.
In this fight for better advocacy we need to remember that community is a big part of advocacy. Isolation goes hand in hand with self reliance, disconnectedness and an unhealthy look inward. The mental health issues that come into play from lack of healthy community and support are severe and long lasting.
We are so grateful for community partners that combine their efforts with ours in advocacy for those most vulnerable on the streets. We need each other. None of us can do it all on our own, but together we are learning to think “outside the box” on what’s the best way to help someone get the much needed support they deserve.