Homelessness is seen as a controversial subject that statistics show is on the increase. This makes homelessness a problem in society that cannot be ignored. Firstly, let us examine some of the causes of homelessness and views about the homeless and from the homeless. Also, let us examine some initiatives that may help or solve the problem of homelessness.
After extensive research, it can be seen that there are many reasons for becoming homeless such as: family problems, debt, drink and drug abuse and arguments in a family. Some people who become homeless are homeless because of debt. This happens when people do not have enough money and have to borrow loans which they cannot pay back. This can lead to homelessness.
The following quotes are taken from case studies of some homeless people; they tell us how their personal situations lead to homelessness. Mary, who is a “bag lady” is in her early fifties and cannot remember how long she has been homeless:
“I‘m like this because everyone died… I could get away without working because of the benefits… Mum died first then dad gave up a few years later… Benefits stopped… I wanted to live a bit so spent more than I had… I said I was here because everyone died but it‘s really because of debt.”
Mary’s homelessness was caused by her spending more than she had and therefore she was forced onto the streets. Mary was offered advice but she did not take it so her only alternative was to live on the streets as she had no family left or around her to offer any practical help.
Subsequently, studies have shown that homelessness is experienced by younger people as well as older people. Let us consider Kelly, who is seventeen years old and is homeless in Aberdeen:
“My mum was told by my step dad that I could stay till my family allowance ran out. I didn‘t go back to school when I turned sixteen so the benefit stopped. He was as good as his word. I went to my gran‘s first… gran saw me as one of my mum‘s problems… When I first came to Aberdeen it was to stay with a friend… I tried hostels so I had an address to apply for jobs but I didn‘t get the jobs because of my appearance… I never looked right for the job… People won‘t believe that someone can just put you out of your own home but that‘s what happened.”
Kelly became homeless because her step dad put her out of her own home. As a consequence of this, Kelly became homeless. This case shows that even with family around them young people can be vulnerable and can suffer. Kelly had no real alternative but to leave home.
Society views the homeless in a very stereotypical way’s the following people show. Karen, who is twenty eight is a young mum with a part time job and has lived in a small town all her life, explains why she thinks people become homeless:
“I will cross the road before I would pass them… I used to go to college in Edinburgh and I would see them at the station… They are mostly junkies… I don‘t know where they get the money to drink and do drugs but it must come from somewhere.”
Alison is a housewife with a part time job and three children and she comments:
“When I come into town on the train… I am put off when I see homeless people. I always feel, when thy beg for money, that they are trying to make me feel guilty… As a family, we work hard to get what we need… I would rather give my money to a proper charity.”
The above comments suggest that most homeless people take drugs and drink and also that they do not work hard enough to get what they need. Both Karen and Alison fail to see the individual person as all they see are people to be criticised and avoided.
Some homeless people find it very difficult to seek help when they are seen only as a stereotype; peoples body language as they walk past can lower the self esteem of the homeless and make them feel like they are not wanted and therefore feel they cannot go to any one for help. Stereotypical views are harmful.
Homeless people can feel...
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