It is often difficult to help people who are currently homeless because not all homeless people are the same, just as not all housed people are the same. However, the lack of understanding often leaves us frustrated and unsure of what exactly what we should be doing to help. Not only are we frustrated, but also the person we are trying to help is often frustrated. The problem is not only are people different, but depending on what phase of homelessness they are in requires different attention and needs.
Phase 1: Induction
Induction the first phase of homelessness and often people during this phase don’t identify themselves as homeless. This phase usually last between one day to six months, depending on the person, and their experiences. During this phase the person is the most receptive to getting off the street, and changing their lives.
Phase 2: Survival
The second phase is when the person is trying to survive. There are two types of people in this phase; the manipulators and the citizens. The longer people stay in this phase the harder it is to help them get off the street, and change their situation.
Phase 3: Lifer
A lifer is someone who has been homeless so long that they have trouble relating to a time that they weren’t homeless. It is very difficult to help this person get off the street, because their identity is now ingrained in being homeless as a lifestyle. This person needs an identity overhaul.
The important thing to remember is when you are helping someone that is currently homeless it is not your job to fix their problems; actually it’s not good for them if you just solve their problems. They need to solve their own issues; however, they may need your help. They may need a lot of help, and it’s okay to give them help. Just make sure you are willing to get out of the way when they don’t need your help.
To see other Blogs in this series, click "Phases of Homelessness"