Look at the man on the corner asking for change; have you thought about his story? Are your thoughts leaning more towards, 'Why doesn't he just get a job?' I want to ask you to imagine his story; his life before the streets, perhaps what led him there and maybe even what keeps him there.
Now, imagine you have nothing. You have lost your house, your job, maybe your spouse. You have only a backpack with some clothes and toiletries and your wallet. In your wallet you have an Ohio state ID and enough cash to take the Greyhound to Arizona.
You arrive with high hopes, you hear there are still jobs to be had in Arizona. You decide to stay at a weekly hotel, you have enough cash for two weeks and of course you just know you will be employed by then. You have skills and they are marketable.
You scan the Arizona Republic newspaper and glean several job leads. You hit the pavement and garner yet more, the excitement builds; you are on your way to a new life! A few days later, responses to your resume submissions start trickling in. You dress in your best and head out to your interviews. Success is within reach and you are offered the position!
You are told in Arizona you will need at least two documents to prove you are who you say you are and that you are legal to work in the United States. No problem you think.. I'll just go to the Arizona Motor Vehicles Division and get an ID for Arizona (required!).
You go to the MVD and are told that your Ohio Id is not on the list of acceptable documents. (Only out of state drivers licenses are, not state identification cards). You will need to get your birth certificate, something you lost long ago.... OK, you think, I'll order my birth certificate from my home state of Texas. You are now told that you need a state issued photo ID with the VALID MAILING ADDRESS on it in order to send off for a birth certificate from Texas.
NOW... you stop and think, 'I need a birth certificate to get a state issued id card, which I need to get the birth certificate, which I need to work? How do I do that??'
While you spend days trying to figure out the answer to that question, you run out of money; upon being forced to leave the weekly hotel, you find yourself in downtown Phoenix, hopefully pointed to the Human Services Campus.
Here you may grow more frustrated as you learn you can't even obtain assistance without an Arizona state ID. You try to apply for food stamps and you learn you need your birth certificate; DES agrees to give you an emergency supply of food stamps but you need your birth certificate within 3 weeks.
You learn Texas takes up to 8 weeks to mail out ordered birth certificates. You feel the mountian is getting higher and are wondering if you will ever be able to climb it....
This story is lived out every day on the Human Services Campus in downtown Phoenix, Arizona. The next time you see someone on the street... try to understand the frustration and overwhelming obstacles they may be facing.
'Why don't they just get a job?'............ Maybe they are trying.... one step at a time.......