Ask The Homeless What They Need

Ten years ago I was homeless in Corvallis. Slowly I changed my life and am in stable housing and living a life I could not have imagined.

My philosophy is: Imagine you are in a boat (we are all in the same boat). I set a direction. And I decide to move the steering wheel 4 degrees either right or left. I stick with it long enough and I will end up somewhere else.

People have a lot of compassion for the homeless. It has been my experience that people have given me what they think I need, not actually what I do need.

Ask a homeless person what is one small thing he can do to change his life 4 degrees? Ask yourself what small thing you can do to help and support him. When you see him again ask him again what you can do to help and support him.

From my experience, getting housing right then would not have been helpful. There were numerous things I needed to do before I was in the right place to be ready for housing. I had numerous obstacles to overcome.

I was able to take small steps. I had a lot of support from the community, and Corvallis had the resources I needed.

I have a lot of gratitude for all I have been given.

I do not want to draw the wrong conclusion, Corvallis has its own homeless problem. Many resources back then are not available now, nor were there so many homeless. I do not want to give anyone the impression that Corvallis has greener grass. We are as stretched as far as Eugene in our ability to get the homeless off the streets.

Beth Kiester