Homeless vs homelessness

By Butterflyy Allen – Guest Blogger

I am passionate about people. When we know better, we do better. Our opportunities aren’t the same, we tend to judge others according to our lot in life. It is unfair to assume that everyone knows better. Let’s look at the state of homelessness versus being homeless.

Homelessness to me is the chronic state of being without a fixed living arrangement. In my viewpoint, the chronic nature of an individual who seemingly dwells in the streets has more to do with mental illness than financial responsibility. If we look at the shelter situation here in Memphis, we can rightfully conclude that we are lacking understanding and rational thinking. These facilities have put a price on people without the financial and mental wherewithall to secure a nights stay. What kind of debacle have we created? In the minds of those already needing help and assistance we are poisoned as a people.

Homeless to me is being in a position where you are not the issue, with sea captain of your domain. Of course, I am speaking from a biased viewpoint. Having experienced the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2OO5, I found myself homeless. No, I did not spend a night out in the dark. No, I did not spend a night without proper shelter, but I was definitely put in a position where I had to rely on someone else for my shelter and it extended beyond my control. Financially, I was incapacitated and unable to secure and maintain my own.

Now back to Memphis and the crisis within. As I drive pass many corridors in the city, I often wonder, where are the instruments for change? There are programs here in the city that are designed to help homeless people, by force or by choice. We have a problem with space and availability, coupled with the economic situation. We are losing the war because we want to focus on the fight, between the haves and the have not’s. Between the two deficiencies of homelessness and homeless. Wherein lies the hope for better.


We have facilities, we have government funding, we also have private donations. What we don’t have is the education of both those living in a chronic state of homelessness and those micro- managing the help. Where is the accountability of those overseeing the funding for these facilities? Where is the accountability for those receiving payments from those that are paying, and then telling them that they didn’t pay enough or they’re 2, 3, 4, 5 dollars short and they can stay the night? Where is the accountability for those showing favoritism because of the color of our skin, where is the accountability, what are we lacking, when will we start to do better?

Some may say, how can you help people that don’t want help? First and foremost we have to work on assisting people to see the need for help. Yes, it is a lengthy process, especially when you’re dealing with mental health issues, but requiring finances is the last thing that should be on the agenda. By being an advocate for change, we put our feet to the pavement. Where are the outreach workers as some would say, “foot soldiers”, case management requires coming from behind the desk, where are the hierarchies who avoid this mental health crisis here in Memphis.

I am here for it, I am starting with the Union Mission. 383 Poplar, do you know better or you planning on doing better?

butteryflyy allen

Guest Blogger

Ellen “Butterflyy” Allen currently resides in Memphis, TN, where she is a GirlBoss. With ventures in the arts community as an author and poet, she credits being a native New Orleanian as the foundation for her welcoming nature. Ellen also finds great passion in the many hats she adorns as a writing coach, speaker, entertainment host, blogger, and talk radio co-host. She writes “To Her for Her”, the theme behind BSLinspire/Breaking the Silence through LIterature (the non-profit she founded in 2011). Ellen is also a mother of three and grandmother to three GrandKings.

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