Essay on Homelessness in the United States

1520 Words 7 Pages
Homelessness in the United States

During the 1980’s the number of "homeless" people, those without a house in which to reside, increased at an alarming rate. Many analysts have given much time and thought as to the reasons that this phenomenon occurred. They cite economic instability and government policies with facts and figures to support their work. Beyond the research and cold statistics that explain this event, are the victims, and those that worked to help relieve their hardship. An interview with Philip Guerrieri gives us insight into the personal lives of these individuals whom he calls "houseless," and the realities of staying alive, both physically and spiritually, on the streets.

Martha R. Burt, author of Over the Edge:
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Philip Guerrieri, born in 1962, in Ft. Worth, Texas, was twenty-four years old in 1986 when he began working as an Emergency Psychiatric Response Care Division agent in liaison with the District of Columbia’s Mental Health Services Outreach. After spending then intensive years immersed in the personal realities that these individuals were experiencing to learn how to best serve them, he at present has taken time off to assimilate the many profound interactions that have served him by broadening his perceptions of life and death. He is currently attending East Tennessee State University, where he was awarded first place in the nonfiction category of the University’s literary magazine, The Mockingbird ‘98, for an essay that giving graphic details into the extraordinary life of an individual case history of just one man and the series of tragic events that left him houseless in D.C. during the late 1980’s. He gave me a personal interview on November 27, 1999.

Philip shares with me his personal experiences working with the individuals who found themselves living on the streets during the years of 1986-1996. He explains why eventually he dealt solely with those individuals who would not go in to the missions and shelters or even accept food from the mobile soup wagons. Philip relives the moment that he first realized that houseless people were not in their current situation because of a life misled or because they were lazy or criminal, as may be the common