New York city is slowly becoming my second home because the love of my life resides there. I travel there once every two months and stay for about a week to a month. I feel as though I've gotten to know it personally. From it's subways to it's bright lights in Times Square. The homeless are a people who are very unfortunate in circumstance. I for one wish I could do more to help them, but it is so hard to pick out which one to help. Once I was riding the subway and a homeless man stood before me. I curiously watched him. I'm not used to seeing such poverty openly. His shoes were plastic trash bags and his shirt was smeared with god knows what. He didn't have any teeth and his eyes were blood shot. He reached into his pocket and I reached into mine to possibly give him a dollar. My boyfriend stopped me and told me to pay attention. The man brought out a white substance on his pinky and sniffed it. He looked around and we met eyes. I smiled and he looked like he was about to panic. My boyfriend later explained that was what a coke head looks like.
I'm told by the locals in New York that they are hesitant to help homeless people because of that atmosphere and drug abusers. Most donate to other causes such as Breast Cancer Aweness projects or Big Brothers Big Sisters. They tell me stories about how people who hand out money are often followed and bothered by whom they give the money too.
I did however give my leftovers to who ever looked hungry whenever we went out to eat. I had my big strong man with me, I didn't feel too threatened. I still cared even though I was always discouraged from giving anything away. I can see how many people would hesitate to even talk to some of the homeless. Some talk to themselves, some are drunk, some are openly using drugs and once I saw a naked man passed out in an ally. I don't like being on the streets of New York at night, unless it's Times Square.
We, as comfortable well off Americans have good intentions, but we all seem to have a complex when it comes to “who gets what”. You can't separate the two groups of who deserves what just by looking or asking. These days it seems that even that is becoming a more far off idea. Our economy today is making people more and more tense about handing out money or donating it to what some would think to be a “helpless” cause. The people of New York City live in a fear of being put in the same place as that homeless man or woman. In fact the overall statistics of hate crimes against the homeless have gone up over the past 10 years.
One of the most heart breaking things that I have ever heard of is “Homeless dumping”. This is the practice of hospital employees or emergenct workers releasing homeless patients on the streets instead of placing them into the custody of a relative, other shelter or sometimes it is because they require expensive medical care.
It breaks my heart to see humans treated such way, but homelessness has existed since the beginning of time, and is almost a form of modern “survival of the fittest, or luckiest”. Who would be the one to bear such a burden?