A friend of mine would stop and talk to homeless around her area. Many of these homeless people were alcoholics or drug addicts. When I asked her why she spent so much time on these people her response was that life is a roller-coaster. You’re up one day and the next your down. There’s a half an inch of water and you think you’re going to drown. That’s just the way the world goes round. She said that you really never know when that could be you some day. The least you would want people to do is treat you like any other person. Dignity, respect and understanding don’t cost anything.
So when I heard of a friend of a friend who had recently become homeless these words rang like alarm bells.
I offered to let the person stay in our house because I know from previous encounters that they are a fantastic musician and it would only take the right contacts to get them back in the gigging scene again. Within no time I know the person would have a stable income and be able to properly afford a home again.
I have also made the mistake before of trying to help too much. I came across as being too forceful and possibly even patronizing. From that experience I also know that peoples pride can never be under estimated so basically, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. With this in mind, when this person came to our house during the week I gave a couple of suggestions but I didn’t push or over state anything.
I freely gave the use of two 16.5 inch RCF speakers or a small boes digital speaker and amp along with a mixer and as many mikes, stands and cables as needed. With this person’s talent and equipment like this at their disposal it would only take a few days to start building up some really nice solo gigs.
I then gave a few numbers of some brilliant friends of mine who would jump at the opportunity to be introduced to such a good musician.
Finally, I have quite a few contacts in the social housing industry so I offered some information.
Without pushing or favouring any solution, I was basically handing this person the means to get out of this homeless situation without asking for anything in return. Within a week the person would have built up a contacts list that would have resulted in a flood of performances and enough money to put a deposit down on an apartment rental.
I was kind of shocked when not only did the person not jump at any of these opportunities, they didn’t even get up to wash a cup or put away their bed clothes the next morning. As we don’t have a spare room at the moment our living room was the only option. Fortunately, our living room has a very comfortable couch that has been used as a bed many a time by visitors. Yes. By visitors in case any of you get ideas.
24 hours after the person came, I decided that they really didn’t want any help to get out of this situation. They were quite content to live off the generosity of others. My generosity has a limit and I have absolutely no intention of helping someone who won’t help themselves so I put an end to my offer.
It’s frustrating. I would have gladly given more time if the person had even bothered to help out around the house. I would assume that someone who finds themselves homeless would do absolutely everything possible to get a home again. But in the meantime, when depending on people to shelter you from the elements at night, the least you can do is use the opportunities given to you and contribute as much as you can to the people who are giving you somewhere to sleep.