Shelters for Homeless #homeless

I just read a great article at Bruce Sallan’s blog about the homeless and was prompted to write another segment about the homeless dilemma.


Let’s take a look at the homeless shelter:

  • Homeless shelters are often established as transient housing by the state or county. In many counties there are also non-profits (often religious organizations) that provide temporary housing.
  • The shelter could be an old apartment house with units.
  • The shelter could be set up like an evac center with lines of cots.
  • I spent time (as a nursing student) volunteering at a homeless center that had individual cottages for families with a large grassy, play area in the center. The center had originally been a motel built in the 50s.
  • Many shelters are for men or women very few are established for families.
  • Most shelters have waiting lists.

When I had to look for a place for my daughter and I, our city had a woman’s shelter with two or three bedroom apartments that you share with another mom and her children.  My first concern was sharing a domicile for months with someone I didn’t know. The shelter was pretty basic: there were pots, pans and dishes if they hadn’t been taken by the last resident. The furnishings were new in the 60s and fleas and bedbugs were a given. This particular shelter didn’t have a soup kitchen. So on the two to maybe three hundred I would have a month, I would struggle to pay for food, basics (like clothes and toiletries) and transportation for two. Don’t get me wrong, I learned how to live on $300 a month but you don’t save any money to get your own place by living in a shelter. Additionally, most shelters only offer free rent for one month to several months as there are long waiting lists.

I had a friend, across the country, who had to pay rent to stay in a shelter with her daughter. The rationale of her state was “you are getting state and federal subsidies we should get a piece of your measly 400 dollars”.

So with shelters there are several dilemmas: Families often get split up, food can be an extra expense, and the state takes some of the subsidies.

I have not mentioned that many of these men, women and children lived in a nice home months earlier,  owned a car, dressed in nice clothes, and ate in the booth next to you in Olive Garden 2 months ago. So the idea of losing job, home and the family is a hard hit.

Please don’t get me wrong if I sound ungrateful or critical. In sub zero temperatures, it is better to be inside and warm even if it’s with the knowledge that your family is across town.


I am grateful that I never had to live in a shelter. The car was my own “space.” The beds and couches of many dear people was so appreciated.

How far does $300 or 150 € get you each month? Could you live on that amount for a month?


10 thoughts on “Shelters for Homeless #homeless

  1. Leslie, thanks for sharing this. More people need to realize that folks who have jobs can be living beneath paycheck to paycheck and all it takes is something – loss of hours, medical expense, loss of one job. etc. to cause someone to lose their home. Your comment about the inability to save is telling as well, so it is hard to climb out of the hole that people find themselves in. All the best, BTG


      1. Leslie, you are so right. We have a poverty problem in this country that is finally getting talked about, which many have fallen into that black hole. Yet, one party’s solution is to throw dirt on them. I volunteer with an agency that helps homeless families, so we help them climb the ladder out of the hole. Take care, BTG


      2. I don’t think politics can fix this. I believe the heart of a people needs to reach out and as you have demonstrated extend a hand to pull people out.
        Thanks for what you do!!


  2. When people cannot get jobs when they need them this seems to be the main problem. Also, there should be enough low rent housing available for people who do need it. And what about some kind of insurance for low income people?
    It is good when your own family can help out in times of crisis. However not everybody has a family they can depend on. Very sad.
    I live in Australia. However we do have similar problems here. A lot of people have not enough security. Often they feel any kind of crisis can effect their finances in a way that they just can’t cope with the bills any more. And then it goes quickly downhill and they depend on organisations like the Salvation Army. Losing your home I would regard as one of the worst things that can happen to any individual or a family.


  3. A moving look at homelessness. There go I but by the grace of God. Last weekend I was in the big city of Vancouver with my wife Franics, and on the sky train we saw a man with no shoes, one sock and pretty beat up feet. I wished I gave him my shoes now, though he did ask for some money and I gave him $5.OO. This morning I saw in a blog the story of one person ion a Vancouver bus who did give his shoes. Here is the link to that inspiring story of one man’s humble action of generosity to another. . . All the best to you, Moonduster


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s