Every Journey is Unique

 In Reflections
Reflections from the Front Lines

Every Journey is Unique

Treating all unhoused and unsheltered people the same way is uninformed.

It’s been 14 days since my last post and 39 weeks since losing my sense of smell. Some of this that I write is really more for me to have a journal, for example assuming that someday my olfactory system is back in action, I won’t remember how long I was without it. No new smells. And for the record, I don’t have “Long COVID” or “Post COVID Condition.” All is well, except for my schnoz.

And, daily I am reminded that I am fortunate and privileged. I am not unhoused. I woke up again today, in a bed with a roof over my head.

Conditions around the Human Services Campus remain about the same. This morning the HSC Outreach Team counted 824 individuals as unsheltered, while we sheltered about 900 in buildings on the Campus. Weather beats things down and blows belongings down the streets. Rain leaves possessions soggy, which are at times hung on fences to dry.

Maricopa County Public Health held a call with us last week to teach us about Monkeypox. Precautions to mitigate its transmission are very similar to that for COVID, so we have that going for us, as we never fully removed measures like wearing face coverings indoors where clients are congregating.

The countdown to Phoenix Autumn is on. The humidity will eventually decrease, and we will be back to a dry heat.

There are new animal visitors at the HSC. St. Vincent de Paul has a family of goats in the Urban Farm to help with clearing summer crops and fertilizing. I met them this evening…. three are shy. One is friendly and seems to like to attach itself to humans. Goats may not be the most common therapy animal, and yet their presence is bringing smiles to people’s faces.

Speaking of therapy, I may ramp up my writing for the next couple of months to amplify the message that all people experiencing homelessness are on different journeys. Some may have a mental or behavioral health condition; they may want and need therapy and treatment. However, not everyone who is unhoused is in this category. Not all of the 824 +900 = 1,724 people who are experiencing homelessness in the neighborhood of the HSC, which is in the neighborhood of State, County and City government, are in need of mental health services.

Some people may have addictions. Not all 1,724 people do.

Some people may have past felony convictions. Not all 1,724 people do.

Some people may be fleeing domestic violence, trafficking, and abuse. Not all 1,724 people are.

Some people are over 50, 60, 70 years old. Not all 1,724 people are in these age brackets.

Some people are under 25 years old. Not all 1,724 are “youth.”

Some people have a disability. Not all 1,724 people do.

Some people may have chronic health conditions. Not all 1,724 people do.

Some people may not feel safe sleeping indoors with large numbers of people that they don’t know. Not all 1,724 people feel this way.

The only thing that is the same for each of the 1,724 people is that they do not have a safe, permanent, affordable place to live.

Any person running for an elected office that has a platform of treating all unhoused and unsheltered people the same way is uninformed, undereducated as to the issue, and will not be successful with proposed solutions that attempt to treat every human being the same way.

If you agree, please share or write your own message on your social media. Thousands of people are counting on us.

About the Human Services Campus

Founded in 2005, the Human Services Campus is a collaborative force of partner organizations united on one campus to end homelessness. Located just west of downtown Phoenix, 16 independent agencies on the Campus see nearly 1,000 individuals every day, offering a holistic range of client services including: reunification with family and friends; mental, physical and dental health; shelter; employment; meals; legal services and housing. Having all of these resources in one location with intra-agency communications makes it more feasible to provide a customized engagement for each client to help end their homelessness. For more information, visit www.hsc-az.org.

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