, Volume 28, Issue 3-4, pp 205-212,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 05 Jun 2007

Preventing Homelessness: A Consumer Perspective

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The biggest problem is the way people look at you. The cold is something you get used to and you can always find food. But you cannot get past the looks, the quiet whispers, and the way it makes you feel. You begin to feel utterly hopeless after just a short time. Being homeless and having a mental illness makes things much worse. With this combination, you reach the bottom of the bottom. The other homeless people start looking at you differently. It is like being a subset of a subset. It makes everything that much harder. It is actually about as hopeless as you can get.

It is almost impossible to stay on a medication schedule while living on the streets. If you have delusions or paranoia, you have to counterbalance these symptoms with the notion that there really are folks out there in the middle of the night that will find you, beat you senseless, take what little money you have, and take any medications that you have. Being in a shelter is not much better. Sleeping is very difficult.

Kenneth R. Wireman is the Executive Director of Main Street Housing, Inc., which is a consumer-operated housing development corporation that has the capacity to provide housing for up to 46 individuals. He has extensive knowledge of Maryland’s Public mental health system. In addition to having utilized mental health services, Mr. Wireman has worked in many capacities within the mental health field including serving as a case manager, licensed clinical therapist, emergency room psychiatric assessment clinician, and a county level mental health services administrator.