I just read a story of a young college graduate who challenged himself to live on the streets for a year starting with $25 and a gym bag.  His story is below.

I also watched a short documentary of a project by Natalie Merchant, and some other artist, to create an album of songs, written and performed by homeless people. That clip is also below.

I have never been homeless and don’t know anybody who has.  I have seen the homeless in every city I have been in.

Some of these people are clearly unbalanced.  Our country needs to find the resources to ensure these people get the care they need.

For some it’s a case of having lost everything.  They need short term help but I have read enough success stories to think that if they are willing to work hard, even if it means starting with a minimum wage job, they will have the opportunity to reverse their misfortune.

For the long term, hard core, homeless I have no answer.  They appear to have lost the hope, or the desire, that they can improve their life.  All the country can do is make sure the opportunity is there when they do decide to change their way of life.  Better people than me spend much of their life trying to do just that.

1) From a Christian Science Monitor story by Peter Smith

Alone on a dark gritty street, Adam Shepard searched for a homeless shelter.  He had $25 and a gym bag.  Mr. Shepard had left a comfortable life with a supportive parents in Raleigh, NC.  Now he was an outsider on the wrong side of the tracks in Charleston, SC.

But Shepard’s descent into poverty was no accident.  Shortly after graduating from Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., he intentionally left his parents home to test the vivacity of the American Dream.  His goal: to have a furnished apartment, a car, and $2,500 in savings within a year.

To make his quest more challenging, he decided not to use any of his previous contacts or mention his education.

During his 70 days in Charleston, Shepard lived in a shelter and received food stamps.  He also made new friends, finding work as a day laborer, which led to a steady job with a moving company.

Ten months into the experiment, he decided to quiet after learning of an illness in the family.  By then he had moved into an apartment, bought a pickup truck and had saved close to $5,000.

Shepard: “one guy, who arrived at the shelter on Tuesday had been hit by a car on the previous Friday driven by a drunk driver.  He was in a wheelchair.  He was totally out of it.  And I said, ‘Dude, your life is completely changed.’ And he said, ‘Yeah, your right, but I’m getting the heck out of here.”  Then there was another guy who could walk and talk and everything was good in his life, but he was just bumming around, begging on the street corner.”

2) Natalie Merchant – Give Us Your Poor

You can purchase the Album on Amazon.com for $18.00.