“This is the bureaucracies of government systems that the homeless have to traverse.”
By Robert J. Garrison, The Seeing Servant, Guest Columnist
In the movie Time Out of Mind, Richard Gere plays a homeless man in New York City name George. The one sequence of events that shows the frustration of dealing with the bureaucracies of government systems is when George tries to obtain a social security card so he can get services. However, the problem is that he can’t get a social security card because he doesn’t have any identification. He then has to go to a different location and try to get an ID card.
This proves fruitless because he doesn’t have a social security card or a birth certificate. So he has to go to yet another building to try to get a birth certificate. Once again he hits a brick wall of bureaucracy when he can’t get a birth certificate because he doesn’t have any identification, a social security card, or proof of a place of residence. At the end of his rope George finally gets help from a legal advocate that helps him to traverse the endless circles of bureaucracy of the government system.
Sadly, what was depicted in the film isn’t far from the truth of what many homeless have to deal with. Many homeless are so dishearten because of their situation. They don’t know about the resources that are available or how to even access those resources. In Washington D.C., which is considered one of the most powerful cities in the world, access to those resources are easy and within a walk or short bus ride away. Yet many have no clue as to where to start. So you can see how people living in the most powerful cities in the world feel powerless.
This is what we do at the shelter that I work at. We give the homeless a starting a point. We try our best to provide the information they will need to navigate the bureaucracy of the government system. It isn’t perfect and people do fall between the cracks but at least we are trying to do our best to change the attitude of mistrust and frustration into a feeling of relief when dealing with the bureaucracy of government systems. This is the bureaucracies of government systems that the homeless have to traverse.
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