I used the word "Lifer" for this phase because when people get here,J they now identify with being homeless full-time. This is when people are quoted saying, "I want to be homeless." It’s not that they want to be homeless, but it has become their identity. The same thing happens to people who have been incarcerated for a long time. They become institutional. This person on the outside appears to be satisfied being homeless; however, that is only because of an incorrect identity. This person is the hardest to change because just getting them into housing is really not going to change their identity. I remember one guy who got a place to live was sleeping on the grass in front of the building at night because the walls were too constricting. The problem is that it’s just new. If you have worked at a job for a long time then start a new job you know the feeling the butterflies in your stomach are almost too much to take.
Actually, if you talk to this person they will tell you that you’re the one that needs to change your life. They are really no longer concerned about what you think. They’ve heard it all and seen all the glances. The sad fact is that this is the person everyone references when they decide that they don’t want to help organizations that help the poor. They might say, “they want to be that way." It makes us feel better when we go to bed: "I didn’t help, but they don’t want my help."
For people in this phase, a Christ-based ministry like PiN is the only thing that is going to help. All the government programs in the world are not going to help this person; they don’t have a housing issue, it’s now an identity issue (i.e. spiritual issue).
This is where PiN really has seen the most amazing life change where people who have been homeless for years have changed through a spiritual awakening that come only through a relationship with Jesus. The same Jesus that your preacher talks about on Sunday is the same life source that will change even the most despite helpless situation. Like I tell the homeless all the time, "God doesn’t make mistakes and he made you." The key is never give up on helping people, because God never gave up on you.
To see other Blogs in this series, click "Phases of Homelessness"