Quote from ramcda3
I guess it would be best for me to educate myself on the shelters and relief places in my area... I never thought of it until now.
I know a lot of people have the opinion that it's best to "Just refer them to X, Y, Z." Which would be great - IF those places were able to accomodate the sheer number of people who need their resources. Most homeless people already KNOW the places exist and know they probably can't get in for the night (or feel safe in those places if they can - how'd you like to bunk down with petty thieves ready to separate you from what little you have, somebody just out of prison, somebody strung out, somebody with a serious psych disorder and off their meds?).
If you're a woman with a kid - you're lucky (as such luck goes) you have a few more options. If you're a single man - you can pretty much forget it. And many places just aren't safe, sleeping on the street is safer as I mentioned. If the resources were able to keep up with the demand and if such places were actually better than the streets, you can believe you'd walk past fewer people camped out on the sidewalk. There's a reason.
It's easy from the comfort of a working or middle class life to say "refer them here or there", then you can feel good about yourself that you 'did the right thing' and 'didn't contribute to their addiction'. Then you can look past them and continue on your way with a clear conscience to the comfort of your warm home, because hey, it's not your fault, it's nothing to do with you, you didn't make them homeless or drunk or addicted. And that's okay - it's everyone's right to live their life the way they choose. The world is full of all kind of people. Which is part of the reason it is the way it is. And to clarify - there is nothing wrong with referring people, but don't do it so you can smugly say you 'did something'.
There are no easy answers or solutions to the problem. But if you feel different - as you obviously do, then don't ever let anybody talk you out of it. Do what you can, when you can, it's all anybody can do. Can you save everybody? You can't even save one, but that doesn't mean do nothing. But for the Grace of G'd go all of us and we forget it at our peril.