“I wouldn’t have come today if they hadn’t made me!”
This was the introductory line from a gentleman that we met at one of our recent community education trainings about the factors surrounding homelessness. We started these classes as part of our leadership for the City of Fullerton’s AmeriCorps VISTA project and has grown into a partnership with Fullerton Advocating Community Transformation, or Fullerton ACT. They are an opportunity to bring together concerned residents with professional outreach workers to help direct people’s efforts to be part of a productive solution.
“I’ve lived in these city for decades and I’ve watched this homeless problem get worse and worse,” the man continued.
We nod, respectfully, as the man displays a stunning lack of empathy and dignity-restoring language that we’ve been talking about in the class. We stress that we are helping our “neighbors without homes” or “people without housing”, not “the homeless”, indigent, or other dehumanizing moniker. We discuss the manner in which people lose their housing and the factors that swirl to keep people unhoused. We share insight from mental health outreach and safety advice from the Fullerton Police Department Homelessness Liaison Officers.
We braced ourselves for the worst as the man continued on, saying,
“But I’m glad that I came here today. I had never taken the time to stop and think about what someone has gone through when they’ve wound up on the street or how tough it is just to get by. It’s like you cleaned off my glasses and now I can see clearer to know how I can help my neighbors.”
If you’re looking for how you can learn more about homelessness and what we are doing with our community partners to end it, make plans to be at the next Homelessness 101 and 201 trainings (April 18) or contact our office to schedule an appointment.