Olivia J. California

The Best Way to Help

Rather than trying to stop the aftereffects of the homeless problem, we should be addressing the root of the problem itself.

Dear Future President,

In this letter, I would like to talk to you about an issue that may not exactly be on the forefront of people’s minds, although it is very real and very pressing. Hundreds of thousands of homeless people live in America, but not much is being done to help them get off the streets. The solutions we have now are temporary, and not working.

This summer, I made a trip to the Tenderloin district of San Francisco with a group from my church. The Tenderloin one of the poorest areas in the state, and definitely the worst area in San Francisco. Obviously, it’s not exactly a tourist destination, but our group wasn’t there on tour. We were volunteering for an organization called San Francisco City Impact, serving the homeless and poor in the area. It was an amazing opportunity to not just help make a difference in the lives of some of these people, but to talk to some of them and hear their stories. It’s a whole new perspective to attribute names and faces to a problem.

Working in the Tenderloin was a great experience, but it was also a depressing one. We saw a lot of homeless people, drugs, and human suffering. It’s no wonder that when people drive through the Tenderloin, they roll up their windows. That’s the problem I’m addressing in this letter. It’s not enough to just donate money, or food, or clothing. All of that is wonderful, but it’s not enough. It’s fixing the symptoms, but not the root of the problem itself. The majority of homeless have experienced some traumatic event in their life that keeps them on the streets. In order to be able to turn their life around, they may need some form of counseling which isn’t available to them. Why not help these people help themselves? “Give a man a fish, and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime” as the saying goes. Rather than spending millions paying for basic necessities, more money should be going into education or psychological help. Chronic homeless individuals, which is defined as “someone who has experienced homelessness for a year or longer, or who has experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years (must be a cumulative of 12 months), and has a disability,” need more than food and clothing. Rather than trying to stop the aftereffects of the problem, we should be addressing the root of the problem itself.

Future president, it's your responsibility to watch out for the people of your country. All the people of your country, not just those with their own homes. So many people are caught up in providing the physical needs of homeless people, they don't consider the mental needs. I beg you, be the one to change this. Be the president who changes the way we think about and treat the homeless.