San Diego has many vulnerable people living on the streets. Homelessness is an enormous issue that America has come to face. Thousands of people live day after day without food, water or a roof over their heads. A pedestrian today can hardly walk very far down a street in Downtown, San Diego before encountering a homeless person asking for spare change, selling a street newspaper, gathering cans and bottles for recycling, or sleeping under a blanket on the Chinchilla 2
sidewalk. In the Merriam-Webster dictionary, homelessness is defined as a person without a home (“homelessness”). Poverty is defined as the state of being extremely poor, inferior in quality or sufficient in amount (“poverty”). The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) list several definitions in their annual fact sheet review including one that states, “homelessness is the condition of being without a permanent place to live, to sleep, eat, shower, come and go as one pleases, leave one’s belongings, and receive one’s mail. It is the condition of being without a place to call one’s home” (NCH). According to the San Diego County Regional Task Force (RTFH) on the Homeless 2012 Annual Report on Homelessness, 9,020 homeless people were counted living on the street on any given night in this city (RTFH). Along with these definitions of homelessness, an often stereotype is carried along. According to TheHomeless.com, “At the beginning of the decade the stereotypical homeless person was portrayed as a middle aged, white alcoholic male, from an urban neighborhood who wandered the country as a vagrant, tramp or hobo, who lived in isolated downtown area...” (thehomeless.com). In reality, not every homeless person pushes a shopping cart full of clothes, blankets and second-hand possessions. Not all are haggard, drunk and smelly. Not everyone is an adult, and some choose to stay on the streets.
When the issue of homelessness is discussed, the image often portrayed of a homeless person if of a disheveled, dirty, lazy man sitting against a wall with a bottle of booze in his lap. This image of homelessness is a stereotype that is often used to blame the homelessness problem on its victims, the homeless people themselves. One former welfare recipient speaks to the manner in which such public scorn is inscribed upon those who are poor:
Poverty becomes a vicious cycle that is written on our bodies and intimately connected with out value in the world. Our children need healthy food so that we can continue working; yet working at minimum-wage jobs we have no money for wholesome food and very little time to care for our families. So our children get sick; we lose our jobs to take care of them; we fall more and more deeply into debt before our next unbearable job; and then we really cannot afford medical care. Starting that next minimum-wage job with unpaid...