Miley Cyrus’ date at the VMA’s, 22-year-old Jesse Helt, gave a speech that touched viewers at home by standing up for the homeless in America as he accepted a VMA for Miley Cyrus’ song “Wrecking Ball” on her behalf. Helt’s endearing stance for homeless people was tarnished when he was sentenced to six months in jail for violating probation on Oct. 7. Helt was arrested in 2010 for breaking into an apartment.
Jesse Helt’s speech at the VMAs may have brought awareness to homelessness, but Helt’s arrest after the VMAs shed light on the hardships homeless people face on a daily basis.
According to Camillus House, 83 percent of Miami-Dade residents who are homeless experience homelessness for a short time period, while 17 percent are in and out of homelessness for longer periods of time. On a regular night, there is an overwhelming 1,347 homeless people on the streets of Miami. From feeding into addiction disorders, to hate crimes and participation in criminal activity, South Florida’s homeless are deemed the most vulnerable in the United States.
Hate crimes against homeless people in Miami have become the most common , stirring thoughts on whether there is any compassion left in humanity. Peter Rosello, son of RHOM’S Alexia Echevarria, was arrested after filming himself abusing a sleeping homeless man in Miami Beach. Homeless people are susceptible to being violent themselves, engaging in robberies and theft with the intention of survival within their lifestyle.
Mental illness is likely among the homeless, as losing physical and emotional stability can become detrimental to the mind. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says about 25 percent of homeless Americans have a mental illness to some degree. Alcohol and substance abuse is among the many struggles of homelessness as coping mechanisms for living a hard life.
Most homeless people can turn their lives around for the positive, as in Aaron Alvin’s case. Alvin, 50, was once a homeless man who graduated with a master’s degree in social work from Florida International University. Alvin now works with Camillus House and hopes to one day open up his own drug rehabilitation center.
Miley’s VMA date, may be serving time in Oregon, but once Helt is released, he might proceed with his plans on attending community college to learn how to install solar panels. “I’d like to be viewed as a good person, not as a nuisance to society,” Helt said.
Can the public learn perseverance from the homeless? The Aaron Alvins and Jesse Helts of the world show nothing less of that.