Topics: Health care, Health economics, Poverty Pages: 6 (1933 words) Published: December 4, 2013
Homelessness Defined
(Re)Defining Homelessness – A Synthesis of Thoughts
Homelessness is a temporary condition that people fall into when they cannot afford to pay for a place to live, or when their current home is unsafe or unstable. Other factors, such as job loss, physical and mental disability, various hardships—including personal, and drug addiction can accelerate people’s slide into poverty, and for some, eventual homelessness, especially in the absence of proper social services. The lack of housing, access to healthcare, and supportive services, then act as others barriers that keep individuals from moving into homefullnesss.

Homelessness is also a state of vulnerability – to health risks, violence, and harassment by police; heightened exposure to the elements; and the absence of privacy. Homelessness can turn into a more permanent condition when people become alienated from society and/or it becomes increasingly difficult and frustrating to reintegrate into the “mainstream”. However, homelessness is not an inherent quality of trait and it is not linked with any particular identity, nor does it define the people experiencing it. Each individual is unique and must be addressed in that way, and each person is worthy of being treated equally in society and should be given the utmost opportunity to succeed and transition out of a state of homelessness. Homeless people are also not a “population” of their own; they are individuals who have every right to the access afforded to people in society. Thus, it is important that we recognize that the greatest contribution one can make towards ending homelessness is acknowledging someone with a smile or a nod and showing that we recognize them—most importantly, that we recognize them as human beings.

Here, it is imperative that we think and talk different about his multifaceted and complex issue. To start, it is important to talk more positively about homelessness. We should refer to people experiencing homelessness as ‘un-housed’ individuals in a state of homelessness. It is also important to highlight common misconceptions about homeless men and women; a frequent one is equating substance use/abuse with un-housed individuals. Although there is a large number of un-housed individuals, who may suffer from substance use/abuse, we cannot equate the two. This is also true when it comes to attributing mental illness.

The following are quotes that reinforce the aforementioned ideas about thinking differently:

Getting people of the streets is such a negative stereotype, that I would probably use the paradigm of getting them housed. If they are homeless we want them to be housed, if they are penniless we want them to have money, if they are hungry we want them to fed, if they are cold we want them to be warm, if they are wet we want them to be dry. So, rather than ever getting into a negative, we want to accomplish something that is the removal of this.

I am not homeless, I’ve been living homeless in Palo Alto for 20 years, on the streets, I was never homeless, I just didn’t have a house,

Our hope is that this definition will be able to shed a new and positive light on people experiencing homelessness and help to see the importance of promoting the need to afford utmost access and assistance to homeless men, women, and children to help them in their current situations and move them to homefullness.

General Overview

The homeless are not just the people you see on Telegraph Avenue. To be homeless simply means to not have your own home and includes people living on their friend’s couches or in their cars. It could be the guy or gal waiting your table. It is important not to assume that anyone does or doesn’t have a home, particularly based on their appearance. Not all homeless are jobless. In 2000 a survey of 27 U.S. cities found that over one in four people in homeless situations are employed. In the past 20-25 a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and...
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