Thoughts about the Homeless

It’s been said that the homeless are a tiny section of our population that is “invisible” in the sense that we pay little to no attention to them, ignore their existence so long as they don’t infringe upon our lives’ space, and we don’t have to walk among them on our way wherever. I don’t know about everybody else, but when I hear the word homeless and about homeless people on the beach, under the freeway, or whatever the news story of the time is, my mind conjures up images of drunks, derelicts, people who have lost their spirit to live life the way it should be lived, “hobos” who don’t care about anything but live day to day. People who have never amounted to much and continue not to.

Last night’s news covered a police cleanup of a sidewalk are in Iwilei where a group of homeless people had come to settle in. They cleared the area as of last night, and then in this evening’s news, many had returned. Wow, what an eyesore they present.

What caught my attention in particular, though, was one homeless haole woman who was interviewed by the on-scene reported. She used to be a nurse. RN. LPN, I don’t know what her credentials were, but she was far more of a professional than just being a K-Mart cashier or other hourly low skilled worker. The interview didn’t reveal how she came to being on the streets, but it made me take a moment to think about that. How did a professional like her end up on such hard times that she was living on a sidewalk under a tarp?

My typical idea of the homeless are that they’re people who were barely making ends meet to begin with and, with the help of bad luck and bad timing, maybe lost their job, then lost their house as a result of that, moved to living out of their car until they lost it, and then ended up with nothing. Hah, not from my class in society and too bad. But seeing this nurse, educated and assumably well in the middle class group at one time, made me think that this can happen to anyone. It can happen to me and my family. All it takes is a combination of unfortunate events to happen in a series of snowballing effects and it can happen. We don’t own our house and the property that it’s built on…. the bank does. and the cost of living here in Hawaii is such that, once one has fallen behind in his/her ability to stay above water economically, it becomes near impossible to make it back.

Maybe that’s why I continue to hold onto the idea of moving back to Guam one day, maybe in full retirement. The house there is mortgage free, and the property, which is larger than just the house, belongs to us… nobody can take it away as long as taxes are paid on it. We can get by on much, much less back home. That is as good a reason as any to keep that idea of moving back to Guam in my back pocket.

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