Homeless: ghosts from the past

It’s going to be a cold night. I’m sitting on the floor feeling the warmth of my tiny apartment, trying to write a story for the homeless people because at one point in my life, I was homeless.

I was one of many. On any given night, it’s estimated almost 23,000 people are homeless in Washington state, according to Puyallup’s Helping Hand House.

During the 2007-2008 school year, 18,670 of the state’s public school children come from homeless families. In 2008, about 87,000 people faced homelessness. During 2009, it’s estimated that more than 102,000 people faced homelessness in Washington State.

Homeless people huddle inside soiled storm drains, under the streets, in corners of abandoned buildings and on park benches with lonely worn-out blankets.

They ride buses with stenched skin because of the lack of soap and nowhere to take a bath. Student Dennis Smith has been homeless.

“My wife and I were at a time in our lives homeless also, but with financial aid’s help, I am now a student at Pierce College trying to earn a degree to get employment,” he said.

It’s not a choice anyone would want to make. It’s because people just don’t have the money or a job to pay for housing.

Some people might have mental incapabilities that prevent them from getting help.

Support and education for those susceptible to homelessness might be valuable. Non-profit organizations such as Helping Hand House have the remarkable potential to assist in preventing and ending homelessness. They can offer a brighter future for people who are homeless.

On the Puyallup campus, some students and staff were asked if they thought homeless people had a choice.

“The question you asked regarding the choices of a ‘homeless’ person requires a great deal of sensitivity and compassion for each and every person,” said Darlene Oakes, program assistant for Registration and Records.

“Certain circumstances may lead to a person becoming homeless such as loss of job, divorce, financial crisis, family abuse or returning military persons. All in all, given the right circumstances, anyone of us could be left in that desperate situation. My heart goes out to those in need…let us all be grateful for our blessings in life on a daily basis.”

While most people sleep in warm, cozy beds secure and dry under roofs, America’s homeless are worried about where they are going to sleep before the chilly nights of winter set in.

A Seattle Post-Intelligencer story describes how Alvena Whiteplume was recently badly burned from the waist up and died nearly anonymously.

She was just outside the tent she had set up amid the thick trees and sodden paths of Frink Park near Seattle’s Central District. The small fire she had started to stay warm set her clothing ablaze.

Whiteplume, who had been homeless off and on for years, was one of about 70 homeless people who died in King County this year. About half of those who died were found dead outdoors.


The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Homeless: ghosts from the past

by Contributing Writer time to read: 2 min