The First Phase of Homelessness: Induction
Induction is the first phase of homelessness and can be very hard on the person who is going through it. This person probable won’t identify themselves as homeless. They might use phrases like "I’m in transition" or "currently in a bind" or "I’m between houses". The fact that they don’t currently see themselves as homeless is a good thing--if you can help them recover from the situation before they enter survival mode. There are usually two basic reasons why people find themselves homeless: they are either running from a situation or were somehow forced out of a situation.
Running A person may be moving on from a situation where they were either being abused or were the one creating the abuse. It is important to determine which so you can determine if you can help them get back into that previous living environment. It is important to work with this person as soon as possible to stop them from being engulfed in the homeless lifestyle. Sometimes people are moving away because “the grass is greener on the other side." As we know, once you get to the other side we sometimes realize that the situation we originally had was better (such as in the Parable of the Prodigal Son). Sometimes you can help by trying to encourage them to get back into their original situation.
Forced Out If the person has been forced out of a situation, the first thing you need to determine is if it was their fault or someone else's. Sometimes people get forced out because of others actions. Once you figure out which case it is, you can try to determine if they have an opportunity to mend the fences and return home. I’ve been able to help many young people go back home just by helping them make some life choices and call home.
If the person is homeless and has no way back into their previous situation, you need to help them start creating a plan on how to get off the street. I have a slogan for people at this moment: "JOB THEN HOUSE." Most people who are homeless are only thinking about housing; however, you have to keep reminding them that income must come first. I have seen a lot of people in this situation that feel like certain jobs are beneath them. I know what you're thinking, "how can someone desperate on the street think a job is beneath him or her?" Here is your answer: We all have dreams for our lives and how it will go. Sometimes when you get in this situation, the previous vision of what you wanted for your life is all you have left--and it's difficult to give that up. You need to help them see that any employment will get you off the street faster, and having no job is undesirable.
To see other Blogs in this series, click "Phases of Homelessness"