Song of the Month




Been Homeless in America is like being in hell

About 15 years ago, pretty new in this country (America) in the city of Seattle. New to the live style, Trying to adopt the cold, freezing and the every other day rain, It wasn’t easy for me and am sure to some thousands of Gambians as well. Am from the tropic were temperature can raise over 120 degrees at times.

I am from The Gambia, a very poor country, but decent, respectful and God loving people. We are taught to honor and respect our elders. When I get stop by a homeless man in America asking me for a dollar, Knowing how poor I was, knowing how poor my family was, I feel little reluctant to give them a dollar. Knowing America been such a wealth country, how comes some people can't have a place to live or find food to eat? I couldn't believe it wasn't one’s choice to be on the street. If a tropical poor man like me came to America and made it, how comes a citizen of America can't make it, so I rather send that money to Gambia than giving it out to those homeless?

After been here for more than 1 and half decade, now have the sense why and how people become homeless in such a wealth country. I decided to dressed like a homeless, went out to down town Seattle on few times to meet up with some of these homeless people I even slept out there just to experience how it feels like been homeless and how it’s like sleeping on the streets. To be honest, it's like hell. Most of these homeless are mentally retard, most of them can’t even explain how they become homeless. I came to realize how wrong I was in my judgment towards homeless people in America.

The federal government or the states couldn’t provide enough Housing to these homeless innocent men and women, old and young. The government is reluctant to spend on these homeless people, but yet the federal government has no problem spending billions of dollars on wars and  billions of dollars on aids to countries like Israel to fight Palestine. When will the US government realize they should focus more on their own problems than others? When will US cut those lousy spending’s on Israel to fight the Palestine’s?

Here are few reasons why some people become homeless in America.

The two biggest factors driving homelessness in America are poverty and the lack of affordable housing. In 2004, 37 million people, or 12.7 percent of the American population was living in poverty, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Many of these people live from paycheck to paycheck with nothing saved in the bank. The loss of a job, an illness, or another catastrophic event can quickly lead to missed rent or mortgage payments and ultimately, to eviction or foreclosure.

While the general impression is that the homeless are primarily the chronic and episodic, those unfortunate individuals often seen living on the streets in the downtown areas of our cities, the fact is that more than half the homeless are families with children. The vast majority of these have been thrust into homelessness by a life altering event or series of events that were unexpected and unplanned for. Contrary to the belief that homelessness is primarily the result of major traumatic events or physical and mental disabilities, there are many top causes of homelessness in America.

Homelessness is, in fact, caused by tragic life occurrences like the loss of loved ones, job loss, domestic violence, divorce and family disputes. Other impairments such as depression, untreated mental illness, post-traumatic stress disorder, and physical disabilities are also responsible for a large portion of the homeless. Many factors push people into living on the street. Acknowledging these can help facilitate the end of homelessness in America.

Around 2000, there was a proposed plan to end homelessness in Los Angles and around the country, the proposal was dead. This national campaign started back in 2000, when the National Alliance to End Homelessness put out a call for this country to end homelessness in ten years. The challenge was audacious, but it caught the attention of then-Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Mel Martinez, who endorsed the idea of ending homelessness in ten years.

Did it work? Certainly, most Americans just have to walk down the street of their urban neighborhood or drive out to the edge of town to see that chronic homelessness is still a tragic human element of this country's landscape.

The amount of money and resources US Government spends on war, fighting other innocent countries, the billion dollar aids to Israel to fight the Palestinian, I could be used to end Homelessness in the United State within a year. So please when you see a homeless on the street do whatever you can to help him or her out. If you can’t help them, just walk away. Never assumed it was because of their own actions, even though we know quite a number of Americans are lazy, but nevertheless, just compose yourselves towards homeless people.

By Balla Musa Wally in Seattle-Washington

Editorial: Please note that the views expressed in this piece are exclusively the opinion of the author. Gambian Talents takes no responsibility, liability and neither supports, nor disagrees with the views expressed herein. We are here to tap, nurture and promote Gambian talents in all walks of life and the writer is no exception. If you are a Gambian Talent and would like to be exposed to our audience, visit


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