Some buddies of mine over in East Dallas have been taking in homeless people during the last year. They had this idea that if they started saying, "Hey, bud, come on in and sleep in the house," that other people would notice and start doing the same thing.
Cause let's face it, the government hasn't done diddly squat. The churches haven't done doo-doo. We've had nineteen bajillion TV fundraisers, benefit concerts and now social media campaigns, yet we've got more homeless people than when we started.
But, of course, nobody wanted to help out my friends. The project didn't work. Homeless people take up your time. They have bad teeth. A lot of em have hassles with the law, or they're sick, or they're trying to kick a drug habit, or they're trying to find a lawyer to handle their divorce. They need rides all the time. They're hard to talk to. They're secretive. Sometimes they pick up and leave in the middle of the night, and it makes you feel weird.
So most people--even the people who THINK they wanna help the homeless--don't really wanna help the homeless.
This failed scheme was called "The Dallas Project," and it was administered by the public non-profit Trinity Foundation. Here's what they learned:
1. Nobody wants to know or hear about the homeless.
If "homeless" is in the headline on this article, then 80 per cent of the people already turned the page.
2. We don't need more government money for the homeless.
The people who work for the government treat the homeless like beggars.
3. We don't need any more of those "Christian shelters" in the middle of downtown.
The way that works is you show up in the morning, sit through a sermon or whatever the place is selling, then collect the goods--either food, or clothing, or transportation. In other words, you've got to listen to what the place is preaching, then, as a REWARD, you get the stuff. If it's a "Christian" shelter, you oughta get the stuff no matter whether you listen or not. This is why homeless people are the most cynical people in America.
4. There's two kinds of shelters
--the kind that make you leave at five in the afternoon, and the kind that make you leave at eight in the morning. Day shelters and night shelters. This is supposed to be so you don't stay there too long. Homeless people have already been kicked out of a lot of places. They're not looking for some situation where they get kicked out as a WAY OF LIFE.
5. Most homeless don't need money.
Unless you can give em $50,000 a year for the rest of their lives, money's not gonna make any difference. This is why these big fund-raising drives are so sick. All they do is raise money to build up another bureaucracy.
6. Ten per cent of the homeless prefer being homeless.
The other 90 per cent lost their job, then moved in with a relative. Then there was a crisis. (Typical crisis: somebody in the homeless family wrecks the family car.) The relative got mad and kicked them out on the street. Believe it or not, this is as hard on the relative as it is on the family that gets kicked out.
7. Almost all homeless people need medical attention, especially dental work.
Being homeless makes your body start to break down. The only way they can get free medical care is if some non-homeless person raises hell with a doctor or a hospital and makes somebody feel ashamed enough to provide it. The government won't do this for you. The shelter will ask you to come back on Sunday night when the nurse is on duty. Only a living, breathing ANGRY person can do this. (It's actually easier than you think, once you get into the doctor's office.)
8. Almost all homeless people need legal help.
They owe money. They need to file bankruptcy. Or they're going through a divorce. Free legal services are either non-existent or a joke. Once again, they need a living, breathing ANGRY person, but this time they need an even ANGRIER one, because lawyers will come up with ten thousand self-righteous reasons why they don't have time for it.
9. Churches are the worst.
There was a time when churches would allow the homeless to sleep in their sanctuaries. Not any more. Churches have "programs." All the "programs" involve the church member giving money, so that the church member never has to actually SEE the homeless person.
10. Unless you have personally taken a homeless person into your house, you're not an expert on the homeless.
This rules out almost all the government employees, most of the preachers, all the lawyers, all the doctors. This rules me out. I haven't done it. I'm guilty. But I'm not gonna pretend anymore. I've given money to all the charities. But I'm not gonna do it anymore, because I know this much:
They don't need money. They need us.