Is The City Of Eugene Handling The Growing Issue Of People Who Are Homeless The Right Way?

Is The City Of Eugene Handling The Growing Issue Of People Who Are Homeless The Right Way?

The next time you walk past a person who is homeless, think to yourself, how long would you last in that same situation?


What is your first reaction when you see people walk down the street towards you? For a lot of people, it might be to smile, wave if you know them or just keep walking if you are a monster who hates human interaction. Just kidding...kind of. Now, instead of someone who looks like you i.e, a fellow college student walking towards you, imagine it is one of the many members of the homeless population that Eugene hosts. Your reaction changes, doesn't it? The question is why and what can we do to shift our line of thinking?

When most people see someone who doesn't look like them or talk like them, the immediate response is to shut that person out. We, as humans, are mentally premeditated to subconsciously align with those who we deem as having similar goals and aspirations as us. Homeless people don't tend to fit into that category. Most people when confronted with the situation take one of two choices.

The first reaction might be one of embarrassment and disgust. Some of the struggles the homeless face manifest as not being completely clean, they are smelly or just unkept in general. But is that the right reaction? I, for one, very much do not think so. The issues that these people face are more then I or anyone in my immediate circle will ever know and I can say that for a fact.

The second reaction is arguably more well-intentioned, but still not helpful. It is a reaction of shame and pity. We feel bad that their situation is so dire but these people feel nothing beyond that. They won't go out of their way to help out those we see. The pity has an effect of possibly dehumanizing the victims of homelessness, because we sometimes, intentionally or not, fail to see these victims as valuable and worth it.

Unfortunately, due to the way that the media has portrayed homelessness and things are seen on tv, many people are not willing to outreach and to help up our fathers, daughters, brothers and so on. One of the things that shifted my perspective on the problem and the things I felt was a phrase told to me years ago. It was the comment that instead of saying the term "homeless people" instead say "people who are homeless."

It may seem like a small shift in words, but to me it was radical. How it was explained is that when we say homeless people, we are putting their unfortunate situation first. It is identifying them, putting a label on what they are and who they are. However, when you say people who are homeless, you are identifying the fact that despite that they have no home currently, they are still people. They are people who deserve common courtesy and respect.

The next shift in consciousness for me came when that same person suggested I think about how I would fare if I were in that same situation. If I had to leave home, not have access to clean water, no washer or dryer, no place to sleep and so on. I came to the startling realization that I would fail. I probably would die the first week and that's the truth. I couldn't do what they do. I wouldn't be able to survive. It made me respect the things they are dealing with so much more.

Ever since then I have decided to make a conscious shift. That is not saying I am perfect or I am always willing to give every dollar to those who ask me for it, but I try my hardest. When people approach me I don't turn away and pretend I didn't hear them if I have something to give, I do. If I do not then I try and offer a smile or a quick conversation. You never know what that would mean to them. The next time you walk past a person who is homeless, think to yourself, how long would you last in that same situation?

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.


Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Social Control

According to Merriam Webster, social control is "the rules and standards of society that circumscribe individual action through the inculcation of conventional sanctions and the imposition of formalized mechanisms." Social norms, rules, laws, and structures within a society are just a few of the methods that keep our society "in-line".


Informal vs Formal

There are two types of social control. There is informal social control which is enforced by family, peers, teachers, etc. and is often referred to as "socialization". Informal social control refers to values, norms, and belief systems of a society. Then there is formal social control which is enforced by the government through police and military. Formal social control refers to laws of society and topics such as terrorism.

For more information regarding informal and formal social control, check out: Definition of Social Control

Positive Social Control

Positive social control is related to the idea of getting rewarded for good work, rather than be hurt for doing something wrong.

For example, you will be given a raise at work if you prove you deserve it, but you will not be tortured if you don't take that extra step. Socialization is the primary way that social order is kept, and is a perfect example of positive social control. There is also a physical organization to society that keeps everything in harmony. Traffic signals, paved roads, and crosswalks are just a few examples of how physical additions to our everyday lives work together to avoid conflict.

There are many benefits that come along with positive social control as well. Raises, bonuses, and praise are all rewards that come along with following rules and norms.

Negative Social Control

Negative social control is related to the idea of discrimination and/or shame. It uses harsh punishment, torture, pressure, and/or threats to keep the peace and order rather than rewarding good behavior.

For example, Hitler used violence and discrimination to keep the Jews "under control" during the Holocaust.

For more information regarding positive and negative social control, check out: Types of Social Control Formal & Informal, Positive & Negative

Examples of Social Control

Religious Social Control

People who follow a religion tend to develop morals and behavior patterns based on what their religion preaches. These people will avoid committing crimes, hate-speech, or anything else their religion deems as "sinful" in order to avoid punishment during or after their death. Many people tend to believe that religion was created with the sole purpose to control people and keep the social order, while dedicated followers beg to differ.

Economic Social Control

Economic social control is attainable by controlling production or controlling an entire society through their economics (cutting off food supplies, stealing from the poor, etc.) Richer people and industrialists tend to control the lower class and their consumers through status and money.

Wealth = Power

Political Social Control

Political social control is the most influential type of social control. The government regulates money, sources and supplies, the laws, police forces, and many more which when put all together becomes social control. The government balances every aspect of what creates harmony and peace within a society, protecting the people from anarchy.

For more information regarding examples of social control, check out:: Social Control: Meaning, Types and Unfavourable Effect

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