An very insightful description by a homeless blogger, from the Sacramento Homeless Blog.
The Homeless Count that Sacramento Steps Forward conducts is, perhaps, the best it can be. My objection, though – and it’s not a very serious objection – is that the public gets too simplified a sense of who homeless people are.
The homeless population is a vastly varying assortment of stark individuals. You can’t get a definitive count because you would first have to define what constitutes being homeless and, as with many categorizations, with any definition, there are instances that are borderline. It is too simple to say that Sacramento Homeless people are either in a shelter or subsidized motel room OR out in the open, somewhere, rough sleeping or living in a tent or in a car.
These are rough descriptions of people I’ve known, many of whom are blinky* as to being properly depicted as “homeless”:
Fellow #1: He’s used the full array of homeless services for decades because he prefers to use his money gambling at casinos. He has a medical condition, but it responds to drugs, and pockets (my guess) $2,750/mo., minimum from disability and early retirement. One charity he is not now utilizing is Union Gospel Mission because he has owed a kindhearted fellow who works there ~$350 for over four years and refuses to pay him back. [Paying his debts is against his religion.] Owns a large house that he and his siblings inherited after his parents died. The house is 70 miles from Sacramento. He stays there on rare occasions. His story: Sponges off homeless charities for shelter and food so that he can play with every cent of the money the government gives him to live on..
Fellow #2: Gets his disability check before the first of the month. Uses the money, quickly, paying for a motel room, a woman, booze, drugs, cartons of cigarettes and whatever else to make himself happy in the short term. [There are hundreds of guys like Fellow #2. The count of guys seeking early entrance to Loaves & Fishes drops by half during the first four days of every month due to these partyers.] After the money’s gone, the partyers behave like penniless homeless guys until the next month comes around. [Most of these guys have no interest in the Housing First program; they just want to continue doing what they have been doing.]
Retrieved August 17, 2015 from http://sacramentohomeless.blogspot.com/2015/08/sacramento-homeless-count-2015-part-ii.html