One day as I was driving to my sister's house in Ravenswood, I saw an elderly man standing at the end of the off-ramp. The gentleman was holding a sign that read: "Homeless will work for food. God Bless."" As I rolled to a stop, I rolled down my window and offered him my last five dollars. To my amazement the gentleman declined my charity. He said "god bless you miss but I will work for my keep."" I told him that I could certainly appreciate that. I then inquired if he had a place to stay for the evening and he informed me that if he didn't get to Parkersburg he would go to a friend's house. As Mr. Baumohl declares in his book Homelessness in America "The lives of all people, disabled or not, are embedded in circumstances shaped as much by structural factors as personal and biographical ones" ( 26). It is sad to say that with that statement the gentleman I encountered is not eligible for homeless assistance according to the West Virginia Bureau for women and children's homeless services. In order to be eligible for services under the homeless program, an individual or family must be in immediate need of housing and have no income or means of obtaining housing. This means that there is no one, friend or family, who can provide emergency shelter and there are no financial resources available to the individual or family with which to purchase shelter. Individuals or families facing eviction are not yet homeless and therefore do not qualify for homeless services (West Virginia Bureau for Children and Families). Today, in America, more and more people are becoming homeless in every sense of the word and still unable to receive assistance from government agencies. We as a concerned and caring nation need to combat these unjust labels and help those who need it, not just those who qualify.
Homeless, its meaning is literal and prosaic: the absence of a domicile. Thus, we employ it to describe those sleeping outdoors in any of a variety of makeshifts, or residing in temporary accommodations like the police-station lodgings of earlier generations or the emergency shelters of the present day (Baumohl 3).