Dear Abby: I have two sisters and three brothers, ranging in age from 52 to 69. All of us except one are comfortable financially.
The exception is our brother “Jerry,” who is homeless. He lives in a park and does odd jobs. He owes money for old student loans and probably back taxes, so he’s hesitant about finding a “real” job and having to fill out a W-4 form. I believe he uses alcohol and marijuana, but not often.
I am the only family member who is in contact with him, and I give him money occasionally. The others may not be aware of how bad his living situation is. I have no room for him in my house because my adult daughter and grandson moved in.
We are not a close family, although we have no animosity. Should I send an email or letter to my siblings about our brother? Should I ask for suggestions on how to help him? How should it be worded?
Sensitive Sis in California
The answer to both questions is yes. Your message doesn’t have to be long or fancy. If I were writing it, I would put it this way: “Are you aware that our brother Jerry is homeless, living in a park and surviving on odd jobs? This is a disgrace to our family. Do you have any suggestions about how to help our brother?”
People who live on the streets (or in parks) usually have more problems than unpaid student loans and back taxes. There is often a significant mental health or substance abuse issue. My suggestion would be to involve a social worker in steering your brother toward the help he needs to get his life back. If there is money involved, wouldn’t it be more wisely spent that way?
Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.