On the Edge… At the Center: The Night Has a Thousand Eyes

On the Edge… at the Center

Stories from the Manchester Homeless Services Center
by Christopher Emerson, Manager
# 11

The Night Has a Thousand Eyes

            One forgotten feature of homeless life is the danger.  Under cover of darkness, the homeless are often targeted, attacked and robbed.  Sometimes a roving pack will awaken, subdue and rob a person.  At other times a stealthy, solitary person will quietly cut a backpack strap and walk it away.  No wonder the homeless try to sleep with one eye open.

            Every morning at the Center is a time for an inventory of thefts, cuts, bruises. People come up to me and say, “See what they did to me.”  Apart from the loss of belongings (losing an ID is the worst!), what I note are the other losses.  Depending on the person, innocence, trust and peace of mind can all become casualties of the night-time attack.  Suspicion, hostility and wariness appear on the face of the recently mugged.  It becomes their new face.

            There’s not much we can do about night-time problems off property, but during the day we will help people to start afresh.  But how many times can hope be dashed to the ground before it won’t get up again?  I don’t know, but in the meantime we will persevere in the hope business.  That is our business, right?