Until we listen, we will not end homelessness in San Diego~
Today, I was reviewing Veteran cases from 2017 and documenting the progress that many of them had made while in our program. As I read the names on the list and glanced back at the files…. I was overcome with the voices of many who have shared their story with me. Some reports came crashing forward like it was yesterday… and I began to realize that through my intense and personal style of case management…. I understood the journey many of my clients had walked because I listened!
I listened without judgment; I listened without interrupting or trying to rush them along… I let our Veterans vent, get emotional, laugh, cry, and everything in between. You see, every one of us has a story to tell, a journey to share, or a tragedy to work through. Until we, as city leaders, as people of our communities and as one another’s neighbors, take the time to listen, I mean REALLY listen…. Then we will not end homelessness.
As the founder of an organization that engages with the homeless daily and walks in the trenches of despair and hopelessness with these folks…. I can tell you there are very few differences between you and them. They all came from somewhere; they all were born with dreams, aspirations, and potential. Some were born to great supportive families, some learned to survive at an early age, and many left their homes and small towns looking for something more. At the same time, others, for one reason or another, were forced to leave home earlier than they should have.
Many spent some years doing the ordinary things 20 somethings do, and some took it too far… but many were set up on a path of trauma and bad decisions before they even left home, to no fault of their own. You see their past transcends to their future and some are sent on a spiral of a lifetime of trying to make sense of the past and trying to grasp on to the future. All of these past experiences and traumas often dictate the path the person will find themselves on in the future. That is the unfortunate reality of many childhood traumas. Many of us have had similar experiences and struggles to get through our childhood memories, poor parenting, sexual, verbal, physical trauma, alcoholic parents, or childhood abandonment. You can see that if you have these issues…. So do many of our homeless.
Until the city leaders, case managers, and homeless outreach workers stop focusing on the situation as a numbers game and look and listen to the homeless as individuals… we will not end homelessness in San Diego. These individuals are each unique and have very different stories and needs from the next one. The importance of case managers that are willing to spend real time, energy, and dedicate time to get to know their client, walking with them to understand them… than the cycle of homelessness will not end for many.
You can’t solve this problem by putting them up in a place if you aren’t willing to help them get through the despair and trauma that got them there.
Written by : Kelly Luisi / Founder of Homeless Veterans Of San Diego 03/3/2021