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BLOG: Do we really need x-ray glasses to see the humanity within the homeless?

Barak Hernandez

You don’t know them but you know them. You don’t see them and yet you see them. These are the visible invisibles. They are the homeless. We know them at a glance and inside us we secretly congratulate ourselves that we are not one of them when we see them.

We instantly go through the recordings of our minds, comforting ourselves that we are so different from them. There must be something wrong with them, we think, to justify why anyone would choose to be homeless. And yet, current statistics show that an adult male/female working full time is just one paycheck away from being homeless.

Make no mistake, Fresno’s homeless population is a community in its own right. In this community, they take care of each other, whether it is exchanging clothes or other necessary supplies. Current statistics for Fresno and Madera counties show there are approximately 3,641 homeless people, an increase of 45.2% from 2019. With the pandemic, there will most likely be an increase for l year 2022.

America’s food basket

How does it start and where does it come from? The San Joaquin Valley supplies the United States with products that represent 12.8% of the country’s overall agricultural supply. That’s a lot of products that come from Fresno. So the question begs the answer, how can an extremely wealthy farming town have such a high rate of homelessness? Whose fault is it and who is to blame for the tent cities that seem to be popping up as fast as apartment buildings are being built?

To look closer

It has been said by mental health experts that a single traumatic event in a person’s life is enough to alter a person’s brain chemistry. After all, don’t positive and meaningful events change us in some way, like having a child, graduating from college, or buying your first home? What about a lifetime of systematic or random – but consistent – ​​traumatic events since childhood? This would not only alter brain chemistry, but would alter and dictate certain behaviors that society would deem abnormal.

These behaviors can include talking to oneself, pointing and talking at objects that may or may not be there, poor physical hygiene, and being unable to communicate one’s needs as effectively as anyone else without thinking about it. twice. Mental health experts would agree that many of the homeless people living in our community suffer from one or more mental illnesses that are often undiagnosed, untreated, and most importantly, misunderstood by society. This makes it difficult to diagnose and treat homeless people with mental illness. The population is always on the move or passing through. It is dangerous for a homeless person to stay too long in one place because they are the target of non-sport victimization or simply out of sincere cruelty.

Fresno’s Affliction

In a nutshell, Fresno’s affliction is methamphetamine. What’s so appealing about this particular drug that has affected Fresno residents at all socioeconomic levels of society? Three answers: first, it’s cheap; second, it alters the perception of reality to a large extent; and three, it is readily available. It’s very appealing to the struggling father who can’t make enough money to support his family, the single mother who can’t find a job or afford daycare, and the homeless. shelter who use methamphetamine to deal with the voices in their heads. or things they see daily. Mental health professionals call this “self-medication.” Yet for others, it could be a tragic life event that derailed them from the path of normal society. They start using methamphetamine as a way of coping or just to “numb themselves out”. We may be starting to recover from the pandemic that started in 2020; however, we are still in the midst of an epidemic — the methamphetamine epidemic across the country.

All is not lost

In Fresno, there are agencies that know all too well the homeless population and their causes. Service providers such as Fresno Mission and Poverello House have dedicated decades to providing shelter and safety to this vulnerable population. Poverello House provides immediate, short-term and, in some cases, long-term housing for individuals and families. Many have benefited from the tireless efforts of these organizations and the volunteers who come from all walks of life to help.

The Fresno Mission (formerly Fresno Rescue Mission) has a warming center that allows a person to shelter overnight until a space becomes available for them. This ensures that the person can safely stay indoors overnight for as long as it takes to find shelter. There is also the Home Key project which has turned formal hotels into temporary accommodation for the homeless and aims to provide 1,500 rooms and shelters for the next two years. Fresno has done a lot and continues to understand the unique dynamics of homelessness.

In the “Superman” comic book series, he had the advantage of x-ray vision – the ability to see through an object or person. Maybe that’s what we need the next time we see a homeless man or woman – the ability to use the power of emotional insight and see them as a person. Someone who can at some point dream or yearn for college, marriage and a family. Maybe inside every homeless person there is a citizen who is part of society and struggling to get by? As the frontier of modern society pushes the homeless further and further away from what we consider normal or human, perhaps they will be able to say like other populations who have been pushed back and forgotten before them… that once we were there.

Barak Hernandez is the owner of clean master since 2018 and has 30 years of experience providing all water cleaning and restoration services. Born and raised in Fresno, California, Barak is the youngest of nine children. Barak attended Norseman Elementary School, Easterby Elementary School, Kings Canyon Middle School and finally McLane High School. Barak was raised to work at a young age without pay. Coming from a large Hispanic family, it was always expected that each member of the family would contribute by doing household chores and helping out with the family business. Both of Barak’s parents are currently deceased but live forever in his memory.

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