by Judah Drelich
One of the many questions that I have while interning at JOIN (a non profit homeless aid organization that hands out supplies such as food and clothes to those in need) is ,“Can I see an outreach worker to help pay rent or to help figure out how to get a job?.” Unfortunately, we can’t direct the homeless clients directly to the outreach workers. Instead, JOIN’s policy is that clients must have an existing connection with an outreach worker in order to work with them.
To streamline this process, I suggested that we put up a sign explaining that process, though my supervisor explained that there are some problems with doing something like this. The most important of those is that we would be stripping people of the human connection that the homeless people get by just talking to someone else.
I find the idea that there is a group of people that are in that dire need of being talked to extremely sad. In prison, one of the harshest punishments is solitary confinement, punishing the worst criminals by restricting their communication with others. To restrict the homeless population from communicating with others seems like a form of punishment from society.
Another thing I find very interesting at my Monday internship is observing whenever someone comes in and starts demanding for something. It brings up the question of what is a human right. Is shelter and food enough, or is there something else that is right up there with the most thought of? I would posit that having a voice in this way is a basic human right, and should be something that we allow for the homeless clients at JOIN to partake in. A t the very least, doing so can empower for those fleeting moments so that they feel like they have some sway in the world.