Only this morning, I watched a You Tube video where two self- proclaimed detectives went about the work of revealing another homeless scam. Through the video we hear their questioning: Is that him, referring to a man who had only moments before been taped on a corner pan handling and was now seen driving a late model car parked a block or so away. And yes, the hunt was on. They pursued him to a beautiful home where he parked that late model car and went in giving them the authority to pounce on his door like a two-man swat team perfectly trained to apprehend such offenders.
As they pounded on his door, their voices are be heard demanding to know whether or not he lived there? Enough already! These amateur sleuths have infiltrated the news trying to find ways to discredit the homeless. Their theories are just that—theories. And when put in the light of true investigation, the theories are loaded with generalizations, reckless conjecture and places the fate of an individual trying to survive in jeopardy.
Driving a late model car in the twenty-first century is no litmus test as to who may or may not be be homeless. Even watching a person entering a nice home is no way to measure or be absolute as to whether a person may indeed be homeless. The fact is that many people pan handle to only to pay a small fortune for the privilege of sleeping on the couch or in the basement of a nice home. I have seen just that thing happen before. Late model cars are often used for sleeping, not just for driving in the world we have inherited in recessionary times.
In the scenario just presented, the man in question could have very well been homeless. And what about the man who spent part of his 100 dollars to help another homeless individual? When the dust settles and the media sensation of hoaxes has died down, there is much more evidence to support that he did help others than that he didn’t.
I have had the priviledge of living homeless for almost two tears and I know that we help each other pretty much because we are all we have. The one brush used to paint the homeless community is broad and loaded with stereotypes and biases. Once a person becomes homeless, she or he is subject to intense scrutiny and attacked for any sign of success. Anything that destroys the mythological perception that has been created of the homeless is met with immediate ire of those who supposedly know what we are supposed to look and behave like.
These you tube sensationalist are fueling an already wary public when ignorance of the homeless already abound. People do not panhandle to mislead, or rip-off, or scam another person. Pan handling is the last defense for survival. The fact that more and more people are engaging in it, should be an alarm that the real scam in this country might be that in these hard economic times, no one has come up with a solution to help house the homeless. In that case we are all homeless. Until there are basic human rights for all, anyone could end living in a late model car, living on the couch of a friend’s expensive home and barely enough food to eat.
This is the complexity of poverty and homelessness of the twenty-first century. Rather than listening to the voices that try to dissuade you from helping a person panhandling, be thankful that you are in a position to help someone less fortunate than you. Judgment has no place in assisting another human being.