Earlier this week on my way home from work I met a 17-year-old homeless boy named Adrian. Adrian asked if I could help him by giving him cash.
Normally, when homeless people approach me in the city, I tend to ignore them- especially if it’s a man, because I don’t feel safe interacting with men I don’t know in the city. Occasionally I would give money to homeless women, but my experience with Adrian was unique because I had the opportunity to talk to him and know more about his situation.
Adrian told me that he had been homeless for a while. His mother was a drug addict and his father was an alcoholic so he left home. He told me he normally sleeps in the train station and doesn’t go to shelters because he doesn’t trust them.
I asked him if he had any other family, and he said the rest of them lived in Poland. He was unsure of where he could go and unfortunately, I didn’t know what to tell him.
After giving him some cash and getting him a Ventra card so he could ride the subway, I said goodbye to Adrian. I don’t know if I’ll see him again but if I do I hope to have better advice for him.
It’s hard enough to see a homeless 17-year-old boy trying to fend for himself in a city like Chicago but seeing people like Adrian isn’t uncommon.
In most major U.S. cities, you will see homeless people out on the street. I think it’s very normalized for people to ignore them because most feel like they can’t help them and because of the negative way homeless people are perceived.
There is a huge lack of support systems in place for homeless people in our country.
Yes, there are shelters and food pantries, but it is not enough to pull someone out of homelessness. As an individual there’s not much we can do to create a system where homelessness doesn’t happen.
That responsibility belongs to our government, who doesn’t seem to care enough to eradicate the problem.
Even still, if you’re ever in the city and someone’s asking for money or food, I ask that you help them out if you can. It may be the only thing that gets them through another day.
Destiny Blanchard is a management major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]