“The Soloist” movie comes out in theaters in a couple days, and here’s hoping that it’s a great film, lots of people see it, and it generates an effective mobilization of public, private and personal resources to effectively end homelessness and provide the mentally ill with the services they need. I’d prefer that, rather than from a Hollywood movie, such an effort would rise from the experience of people struggling to overcome their own challenges and the everyday heroes that help them, but perhaps I’m just becoming a realist in my old age.
If you are one of those few people who still likes to read about issues and reflect on how to make this world a better place, here are a couple “Soloist” related pieces you should look at. Steve Lopez’s column this week (“A better way of dealing with society’s neediest”) recounts his experience testifying at a Capitol Hill briefing on homelessness, tied to the release of the movie. One of the persons he quotes in the column, Deb DeSantis, CEO of the Corporation for Supportive Housing has a piece on the Huffington Post titled, “What The Soloist Tells Us About Homelessness and Mental Illness in America.”
A common myth about homelessness is that people “choose” to live on the streets. As both these articles point out, just as Nathaniel Ayers had to make his own decision to live in the apartment that LAMP Community provided for him as recounted in “The Soloist,” people have to take charge of their own recovery. But, the best solution to catalyze that process is a place to live, ideally a permanent housing unit coupled with supportive services to help people deal with their illnesses, addictions, and other issues.
The premiere of “The Soloist” was Monday evening. I just googled it hoping to find some articles highlighting how people reacted to the film. Instead, I found numerous pages with pictures of celebrities at the premiere or the fact that Halle Berry wore flip flops rather than stilettos to the event.
Yes, we are sadly a celebrity-crazed culture. I wish people like Steve Lopez, Deb DeSantis, Bob Carolla, Hyacinth King, and Sister Mary Scullion were the celebrities who influence how people think, but in the case, I suppose Robert Downey Jr. and Jaime Foxx will have to do.