Retired journalist and Crescent City resident Evelyn Cook did more than imagine being homeless – she did it. If you missed her Triplicate article here is your chance to share in her insights.
Another View: Let’s make homelessness a felony
By Evelyn Cook
While writing about homelessness a few years ago, I decided to try living homeless, for accuracy’s sake. I chose a city 100 miles away and left everything behind except my trusty old Honda, a half tank of gas, and the clothes on my back. My days were spent panhandling — a deeply humiliating exercise — and visiting underfunded social service agencies, churches and charities. Sleeping in the backseat of my car was so cold and cramped, I caught very few winks.
Sleep deprivation and the lack of a home base severely disoriented me. I felt confused, forgetful, frightened and utterly low. I hadn’t realized it was possible to feel so discombobulated. After a hellish week that seemed like a year, I gave up and drove back home to avoid further mental disintegration.
Most of us don’t realize how much a fixed abode contributes to our sanity until we don’t have one. In other words, maybe some people aren’t homeless because they’re crazy, maybe being homeless makes them crazy.
An estimated half-million homeless live in the U.S. Experts say about 25 percent suffer from severe mental illness. I suspect many got that way — or got worse — simply from being homeless.
More than a few fall into homelessness via alcoholism and/or drug addiction. About 10 percent are veterans. Some are criminals on the lam or undocumented immigrants evading deportation.
But many are ordinary families who lost jobs and homes due to unexpected misfortunes. Nearly 25 percent are children.
Once someone falls into homelessness…