Thousands of homeless people seek help each day to be able to survive. Homeless shelters can help with food and shelter. For some however, a homeless shelter isn’t really an option. These homeless people then take to the streets looking for help.
“Not all of us are out here trying to do drugs and get money for alcohol because I do neither,” Albert Bear (Big Bear) said, a homeless man who frequently stands in front of Smith’s Food and Drug down the street from the Taylorsville Redwood Campus.
Big Bear believes that there isn’t any work, especially lately because of the economy. He said that he has traveled from coast to coast looking for a job and has had no luck. He believes that this country is over populated and there aren’t enough jobs for everyone.
“I’ve been homeless for about 20 years now,” Big Bear said. “I’ve had odd and end jobs, but nothing permanent.”
Big Bear stays by the Jordan River in a tent and uses propane for heat. He stays there with his little brother, another homeless man, and his pit bull. His dog is why he doesn’t stay at a homeless shelter.
“They won’t let my dog in,” he said. “He is like my kid so I won’t give him up.”
Big Bear said that all of his family has passed away except his little brother. Big Bear and his brother stand outside of Smith’s Food and Drug picketing just long enough to get enough money for food and gas for the day.
These homeless men get just around $20 to $25 a day. It takes around 5 hours to have people donate this much.
“I was going to go down to Fourth Street Clinic for homeless people, but I got an Ace bandage and all of that from BOA [Bank of America],”Big Bear said, about standing in front of Smith’s Food and Drug every day on a sprained ankle. Bank of America is located next to Smith’s.
Big Bear believes that we need more homeless shelters to help the homeless. He thinks that these shelters need to offer more services to help find jobs, homes and health care.
“For the 2010 year there were about 16,000 homeless people [in Utah],” Jennifer Hare, an Executive Director for Family Promise said.
Out of the 16,000 homeless people in Utah, 45 percent are families with children. This doesn’t include those kids who are too young to go to school. Most of these kids belong to single mothers who cannot afford to keep any form of a home.
This count of homelessness in Utah does include those who stay in a friend’s apartment for a week then goes to another friend’s apartment. This type of homelessness is called “doubling up” because it’s more people than allowed to live in such a small space.
Family Promise is a volunteer based organization that helps families in need of a home. They help families find a place to stay in the meantime, helps them find work or go back to school, gets them a home and works with them for 2 years to keep them on track.
There are many more shelters in Utah that help not just families, but individuals who are homeless. These shelters don’t just give the homeless a place to stay and food to eat, they help the homeless secure jobs, a home and find medical attention.
For more information about homelessness in Utah visit utah.gov