“Evicted” A Second Look

by Bob Norfleet

The reason the Greensboro Voice reviewed Evicted is because poverty causes eviction and eviction creates homelessness. Eviction is only part of the homeless problem. Actually having an eviction record creates homelessness because many landlords will not rent to someone who has an eviction record. Job loss, divorce, felony records, mental and physical disabilities all play a part in creating homelessness.

Many of our physically disabled fail to qualify for the State’s SSI benefits upon first or second applications. Often, these unfortunate people have to reapply using the services of an attorney who collects a fee from the State but only if their client is approved. While waiting for benefits the unfortunate person often becomes homeless, especially when family is not nearby to lend a hand or a place to stay.

Felony records follow ex-felons around like an incurable disease. Many felons upon release go directly from prison to homeless shelters because family and friends don’t want to associate with them or don’t have the room to share . At the homeless shelters, the ex-felon gets free room and board for only short stays (60 – 90 days). After that, most end up under bridge or in a donated tent. Yes, the punishment for the crime continues well after incarceration.

A serious mental condition that causes a person to “not play well with others” also prohibits one from qualifying or maintaining a job. Landlords don’t like to lease to the mentally ill unless the lease payment is guaranteed from some secondary source and the illness is not dramatically obvious on the date of application.

Many who are walking the streets, once lived with family but were soon asked to move out. Struggling families cannot afford to feed an extra mouth……especially if that mouth cannot get along with paying family members. Everyone is expected to carry some portion of the load. “No money, no stay.”

Only a person who has lived on the streets can feel the fear, taste the rejection or live daily with its associated loneliness. I have been amazingly blessed in this life. I was raised by loving parents and loving relatives. I got a stern scolding or whipping as a child if I did something unethical against a friend, neighbor or stranger. I was taught that I had value and was encouraged to move forward and to accept failings by getting back on my feet. I was expected to work hard and use my brain to get an education, get a job, give service others and be a loving person to my family & friends. I was taught to be kind to strangers but to keep my guard up. I missed the mark many times. Still, good choices are options that come easily to me. To the homeless, options come hard and every option seems to have scary consequences. “Got that job…..now how will I get to work? When can I get a roof over my head”.

Poverty and it’s evil siblings are unintended partners for too many in this world. Happiness for them is fleeting and choices seem limited. So they get evicted, loose jobs more frequently, commit crimes more often, end up incarcerated and experience homelessness.  Few find themselves motivated or qualified to grasp the brass ring when it comes their way because they don’t recognize its face or it’s value. It is a stranger so they pass it by. Then they get evicted