To Be Homeless
Most of us have never experienced what it is to be homeless. Director Glen Dunzweiler was faced with the threat of becoming homeless and it seemed very real to him. As far as he knew, those who were homeless were drug addicts and the mentally ill and the realization that he might be soon joining them caused him to question what it is like to live on the streets. To find the answer to this, he traveled across America to meet with the homeless of this country. Several years ago, I did the same and decided to live for a month among the homeless and I gained a whole new understanding of what homelessness is.
Just recently, homelessness was declared to be a state of emergency in nine states in America. We began to see that there is an upward trend in this country that began after the recession. Many began to understand that thy were just a few steps from the street. This film focuses on the new homeless. In 2015 California, Washington, Oregon, Hawaii and New York were among the nine states that were declared to be in a state of emergency. In that same year, New York City reported that between 2011 and 2014, homelessness rose at an astonishing rate. Statistics show that 60,939 men, women and children were living in municipal shelters.
Using money that he had emarked for the bank, Dunzweiler went on the road to thirteen American cities where he interviewed homeless people and service providers to find out what it is like to be homeless in America. The new homeless were those who lost their homes due to a job loss or the economic downturn and these were the people that Dunzweiler was interested in. He was on the road for four months, living out of and sleeping in his car (or on friends’ couches) and taking showers at a local branch of his gym. He did the interviews and the filming himself and he soon learned that what he had thought about the homeless was incorrect.
He thought being homeless meant that a person was an addict or a mental case and while in some cases this is true, it is certainly not true for all homeless people. He interviewed people living on the streets in Santa Monica (CA), Riverside (CA), Sacramento (CA), Los Angeles (CA), San Francisco (CA), Las Vegas (NV), Portland (OR), Denver (CO), Kansas City (MO), Washington (DC), Memphis (TN) and Springfield (MA)] and he interviewed service providers in the same places.
His film looks at the misconceptions many have about the homeless. We see that not all people “choose” to be homeless and that panhandling does not supply one’s basic needs. Many have thought that panhandlers make good money and se see here that this is not the case at all. We also see that not all who are homeless and living on the streets are addicts or mental cases. It might surprise some to learn that while men are more visible, thee are many families and women who also are homeless. It seems that homeless veterans get better care than just the homeless but in some cities the number of homeless veterans is one in four. One of the main reasons for being homeless is the lack of affordable housing and incomes that decline for whatever reason.