My experience volunteering with the homeless

Last Monday I had the opportunity to participate in the Housing 1000 project, which consists of interviewing thousands of homeless people in the Bay Area with the aim to provide housing for 1000 of the most vulnerable people. The surveying process began early in the morning, and we found several homeless people outside a shelter in San Jose. The survey asked questions about the length of time the person has been on the streets, prior military service, prior drug use/abuse, and incarceration. My girlfriend and I found it interesting that the majority of the people we interviewed had some drug abuse in their history, and almost 100% of the interviewees admitted to having been incarcerated at some point in their lives.

Another interesting insight we learned was that homelessness knows no limits. We met people who held Bachelor’s degrees, Masters degrees (one with an MBA!), and to my surprise, I ran into MY EX-BOSS! This man once ran our program, and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who is well trained in substance abuse and mental health issues! Although I did not pry into the reason why he is now homeless, I feel that substance abuse may have played an instrumental role. Overall, I realized that homelessness is a predicament that can happen to anyone, even the most professional, educated individual. I plan to further research this topic for my next WISR project.

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