A poor man’s crime

Homeless-RecycleEach day at 8 a.m., I go outside my home in Oak Park to feed my dogs and notice a homeless man pushing a cart full of recyclables down my street. Around 5 p.m., he passes by again, in the opposite direction. And sometimes when I drive to Sacramento City College, I pass the recycling center on Franklin Boulevard and see the same man. He’s pushing his cart to the recycle unit.

Sometimes when I see him, I offer a plate of food. He always refuses. He says, “No thank you, ma’am. I’m working right now. But God Bless You!” He has his own hustle, his own way of surviving. He has the most humble job.

When I see the people in my neighborhood, I see hardworking people. They are people who have to settle for the lower paying jobs and have to work two or three jobs to support a household. We are the people who get the “short end of the stick.”

According to the 2013 Sacramento Countywide Homeless Count Report done by Sacramento Steps Forwards, there has been a 22 percent rise in homelessness from 2011 to 2013. The analysis states that the end of Homelessness Prevention & Rapid Rehousing Program, which was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, was in great part responsible for the rise of homelessness and the decline of assistance for our community members without homes.

What the data tables show is different from the reality of the streets. It is disheartening to see the homeless numbers increase for victims of domestic violence, mentally ill, our veterans, our youth.

It’s frustrating to see the distress and helplessness that exists in our community. I think back to my childhood and wonder how my mom did it by herself with two kids. I remember bouncing from house to house every year, and from motel to motel.

Then there were those periods when we would live at other people’s homes or sleep in a parking spot. Homeless people come in all shapes or colors. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you some homeless men wear suits and ties. But it’s true.

It is unjust that we don’t have the adequate programs and services to support our homeless brothers and sisters. Yet there is always hope. There is much legislation and many initiatives that have been developed to help solve this problem.

As an individual, you can get involved by following up on several initiatives: 2013 One Day to Prevent Homelessness Campaign; New 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness; Homeless Youth and Young Adult Initiative, and HEARTH.

Roze Castaneda

About Roze Castaneda
Ms. Castaneda is a professional caregiver and student of social science and history in the Liberal Studies department at Sacramento City College. She volunteers at many community service organizations, including those that support homeless individuals and the elderly. Music is among her passions. She plays djembe, clarinet and piano.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *