Scientists conducted a study in Vancouver designed to test some of the stereotypes that are most common about homeless people.
Don't give them money - they'll just spend it on temptation (alcohol or drugs). Give them food or clothes, instead.
The name of the study was The New Leaf Project. And scientists chose 50 people, who recently became homeless, and gave each one $7500. They then tracked their spending to see what each person chose.
Though the article summarizes the results, it also tells one person's story. The first thing Ray did was to open a bank account. Then he took a week to absorb the realization that his life had just been changed for the better.
How did the study participants do?
By spending their money wisely. They secured housing. They began to eat regular meals. They bought clothes suitable for job interviews and living with dignity. And they took courses that might make getting a job easier.
The conclusion of the study was that those stereotypes were wrong. I wonder if there are other stereotypes we believe about homeless people that are wrong.
Keep reading for other examples.
For 90 Days Last Year, I Was Homeless
During the summer of 2022, when our lease ended, my son went to live with his girlfriend, and after a week at a sketchy hotel, I went to live at The Salvation Army. I was there until just before Thanksgiving, when I was able to move into an apartment with friends.
How could that happen?
Neither of us could afford an apartment.
So I was homeless because I didn't have anywhere to live, but I am so grateful I was able to stay at the shelter without having to sleep outside. I had decided I was never going to close my eyes and cross my fingers on a park bench or in an alley, or wherever.
And I had dire plans for preventing it. In my opinion, there are quite a few experiences that are worse than death.
It took a couple of days to get a bed at the shelter, but I am SO GRATEFUL that eventually there was one.
Every time I thought about the fact that I didn't have a place to call home, I was stunned. I'm a homebody without a home, I kept thinking.
I could tell you funny stories about an older woman with arthritis climbing up to the top bunk, inching along the bed each day to make it up. Ask me how long it was before it occurred to me that I could move the bunk beds temporarily, so I could make it up while standing.
And y'all know I'm a night owl, right? Lights out was at 11pm and breakfast was at 8 in the morning.
Gotta say, though - that was the best I had eaten in months.
And I made friends there. I remember one of them saying that I was private and secretive. I still am, which is why over a year has gone by without my saying a word about this experience!
A saving grace - the TV in the day room had the Hallmark channel and Great American Family. I was actually able to watch Christmas movies while I was there.
But the other big saving grace was my faith. My life had been saved, which meant more time to get this whole life purpose thing right.
Plus, I had applied for disability and been turned down a couple of times (I have chronic fatigue syndrome and multiple chemical sensitivity), so I had requested to have a hearing about it. Something about being in the shelter sort of cinched my faith that I was going to get it.
I am not sure why, but it did. And I wanted to trust that all of my life would work out eventually.
On the one hand, I believed that I came here to help raise the consciousness of the earth and its people. And though this experience felt like quite a setback, I didn't get the impression that I was in any way excused from duty. :)
So my spirituality became very important to me. And even though I felt like I was in limbo, I began to believe that something was going to work out.
Life After the Shelter
I was right.
I found a great lawyer and did get disability, and when I left the shelter, I had somewhere to go.
This year has been challenging in some ways, but I see clearly how they were designed to help me grow, and I believe last year's adventure was too.
I believe that life happens for us, not to us, even when it gets really tough.
Writing this Post
My stomach has been hurting a little the whole time I have been writing this post. But I also feel kinda numb.
As I tried to remember that time, so I could write about it here, it seemed far away and a bit cloudy.
I think it is because I am trying to protect myself from telling the whole story. I have been back and forth about telling any of it, but I keep having intuitive messages about telling my story and being fully authentic. So I hope I don't delete this.
Here's what I have left out...
(1) I am an introvert who had been alone a lot for years, so I was terrified of meeting a bunch of new people at once.
(2) One of the friends I made there lied to and about me, and some of my other friends believed her, at first, so I ate meals alone for a while. That was very painful.
(3) I trusted someone else there and it kind of scrambled my faith for a bit. I sort of tried to adopt hers. And it took me a while to untangle that shift and to let go of the friendship.
I was partially inspired by that struggle when I decided to make trust my word of the year for 2023. And now, I feel very good about my faith, although I do ask my spirit team to fix my ego so I can raise my consciousness higher.
(5) When it was time for me to leave, I didn't want to go. I had gotten attached to the friends I made and was afraid we wouldn't see each other after that time.
I have been right about that, so far.
Sheesh, I do not like how I feel right now. I am writing this post in advance and am going to send Reiki into the next two weeks so I can make peace with it before it actually posts.
Over to you. Have you ever been homeless or known someone well who was?
Thanks for reading my story.
See you next time!