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Should You Help Homeless People? Why or Why Not?

Homelessness in America is a tragic situation.  In the land of dreams and opportunities it would seem that anyone with the guts to put their mind to working hard would never be placed into destitute.  It’s difficult to determine the difference between those choosing to be homeless and begging for handouts and those who did not choose to be in their current situation.

It is easy to take the handout; it’s easy to stand in line to receive something not earned.  I blame our welfare system.  We have generations of people who have been born into a system that does not hold them responsible for what they receive.

Who am I to speak about welfare and homeless and handouts…..I am a former recipient of welfare.  I received medical benefits, cash, lower rent and lower utilities, and food stamps for 18 months of my life.  I took it upon myself to pay back each and every benefit I received.  It took me 3 years but I can proudly say that when someone needed help in my neighborhood, I have and continue to help them where I can. Our welfare system makes it difficult to obtain employment, you are penalized the day you receive a job and that makes it more difficult to stay off of welfare or get off it all together.

All too often right here in Denver, I leave for work at the crack of dawn, I will see three or four people pile out of large vans with cardboard signs and buckets to sit on the street corner.  I drive around Denver a lot, near lunch time there’s a changing of the guard so to speak, and new arrivals take their place.  I have seen a “cleaner” looking person get out of these vans and the “dirty” people will come over to him and hand him wads of cash.  This is exploitation in my opinion and makes it hard to help those who truly need the help.

My husband once helped a homeless person who was standing on the corner with his sign and his dog.  He went to the local store and carried on his shoulder a 40 pound bag of dog food and set it next to the man, who did not thank him for his help but belligerently told him off!

There is no answer for homelessness, no right or wrong answer on whether we should help them or not.  If you are hungry, you are welcome at my table, if you want to work I will find something for you to do.

Michele Forto is the lead trainer for Denver Dog Works and the co-host for Dog Works Radio Show.