Friday, October 07, 2005

When homeless people go missing

What happens when a homeless person goes missing? What happens when there are insufficient relationships within the community even to know who to ask or to rally up a group of friends to keep an eye out?

This entry is a puzzled follow-up to my earlier article.

Last month I had helped a homeless man get to a shelter on the North side of Pittsburgh. His ex-girl-friend had dropped off his things at the church as a neutral location, so that we could get them to him. He had gone out looking for work and had succeeded in finding a job. He also began looking for a place to live outside the shelter and found a place.

This morning I followed up on my last conversation with him on Wednesday of this week, and took a drive to the North Side to deliver his few possessions. When I called his employer I was told that he had not shown up for work for a couple days and had not been seen.

I called the shelter where he had been staying and they could only confirm that he was not there any more. I went to the place where he was supposed to have a room above a bar. The bartender recognized his name and said that he had a room upstairs, but had no suggestion for where I could find him.

My frustration at not being able to unload my car was far overshadowed by uncertainty about what had happened to this man who had been trying to make a new start. Apparently his journey had taken a sudden turn and he had dropped out of sight. What happens to these human beings when they disappear? Where do they go? Are there others in that place who will help them get back on a forward path?

Update 10-16-05. On Saturday George left me a phone message at the church, that he had found a new job. I am relieved to hear this news. I hope it is a sign that he is getting back on his feet.

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