Being that my entire adult life has been immersed in homelessness, and desiring to make something positive out of it, fearing that my life might end up a total waste, I started my own brand of homeless advocacy. This advocacy, of telling my personal experiences and opinions about homelessness, for what good it has done, has still been limited, a bit one sided. It was a “keyboard advocacy”. I was telling my story, but I wasn’t really involved in helping homeless people. If anything, my advocacy was an attempt to inspire others to be involved. Within that, I think I was fairly successful.
Now, I find myself at a new crossroads, new options are being made available to me, and I am thinking that it’s time for a change. That, and I have found that the general direction of all homeless advocacy is undergoing a change. It is becoming more direct, more hands on involvement, more action oriented. And, I’d like to be a part of that.
Another thing I have discovered, as I have been more inclined to be introspective, is that much of my advocacy wasn’t for other homeless people, it was for myself. When I was telling people that they shouldn’t be so mean towards the homeless, what I was really saying was, “don’t be mean to me.” Well, I feel I’ve gotten to the point were I don’t feel the need to defend myself anymore. I really am ok with myself, who I am, where I’ve been and where I’m going. So, advocacy doesn’t have to be about me anymore.
Using all that I know about homelessness, and the “homeless industry” I think I can be useful in other ways, in more direct ways, with helping other homeless people, with working to get people off the streets. And it seems that is the new, cutting edge, of homeless advocacy. People need to change course, stop focusing on the immediate temporary needs of the homeless, and instead work to get homeless people into housing. Housing First is the new paradigm, it works better than anything that has been tried previously.