Are they homeless, house-less or street dependent?
Our clients don’t like the word homeless as a rule. They are willing to be called “house-less,” but I don’t like that name. We have agreed over the years on street-dependent. But you can be street-dependent in a lot of ways. You can need the street for:
- a home.
- protection and relative safety.
- a livelihood (begging, charity, stealing or street-related work).
- a treatment facility (a place to self medicate with street drugs, alcohol and illegal substances).
- a surrogate family to replace the one you never had or the one you don’t want or aren’t wanted by now.
- for friends and social contact.
In order to become street-independent, you must give up each of these. Perhaps the hardest is friends and social contact. People get apartments. They get sober. They get jobs. They get well. But they still hang out. And it’s because they have friends and connections. Replacing those is hardest of all.
I often counsel as part of recovery that you have to find new friends. “I don’t hate the friends you have and nor should you. But they only know how to relate to you in street-dependencies. Whether they mean to or not, they will encourage you to be street-dependent.”
And one young man who has an apartment, is sober and now even goes to UT, said this: “People won’t forgive what I don’t. They don’t’ accept me. So I still hang out here. It’s a big risk to me, but I need friends.”
Father, help us to forgive one another. Help us to accept the lost sheep back into the fold. We’ve all wandered at one time or another. Amen.
“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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