When Homeless People Don’t Want Help

From the Change.org blog: 

“No thanks.” 

No one has firm numbers, but it’s a generally accepted truth that “No” is sometimes what outreach workers and other homeless advocates are told by people they’re trying to help.

What to do then? Reason with the person, who might be saner than you or who might be suffering from a debilitating mental illness? Call the police? Try again later? Just walk away?

I know everyone wants me to get housing and my health may be so bad now that I’ll have to actually find some soon,” says one homeless man. “But I don’t need four walls to make me feel I’m ‘home.’ I am home when I am surrounded by people I like in a place I feel safe at. I’ve been in plenty of places people call home and everything about it was bad.”

It’s a harsh reality that the reason many men and women “choose” to be homeless is that they have a far different definition of “home” than we do.

To them, “home” doesn’t equate to “safety”, “acceptance”, “happiness” or “relationship” or “love”.  They’ve had burned into them that “home” means “violence”, “rejection”, “sadness” or “unwantedness”.

For these hurting people, it doesn’t do much good to offer four walls and a roof — unless we also bring them to a place of healing, trust and relationship.