Demystifying Homelessness


“Hello, my name is citizen X, and I’m homeless.”

[who is citizen X?]
“They’re crazy, filthy, low-life, drug addicts.”

citizen (X) can be anyone.
A mother, a father, a son, or a daughter.
A neighbor, a friend, or a co-worker.
A teacher, or a professional.
A veteran or just an average ‘Joe’.
Anyone can befallen to unfortunate circumstances.
It can be you…it can be me.

[what are these unfortunate circumstances?]
“They brought it upon themselves.”

homelessness can be easily mistaken
as a lifestyle, poor life choices,
or a self-inflicted condition.

however, the reality of poverty is quite insidious.

wealth and property, for many reasons,
can disappear without forewarning

financial stability can be rocked
by a speculative economy
entire regions devastated by disaster
unexpected accidents and crises,
crushing the one paycheck that levies
the onslaught of what it costs to live.
life can be tumultuous, try as we may to
defend against these torrential waves
but it only takes one tsunami
to bring civilization to its knees

[what is homelessness?]
“Vagabonds, peddlers, beggars, pan handlers.”

Formally defined as “without a home”, “having no where to live”.

Perhaps we can add:

“a persistent and chronic condition,
in which one is subject to prolonged
physical rigor and mental stress while
exposed to inhumane circumstances,
struggling to survive, living but barely alive
stripped of dignity and dehumanized
forced to become a hunter in a concrete jungle,
caught in a downward spiral of hopelessness,
grounded like a featherless bird that can fly
if given the wings and the inspiration.”

[what can it really mean?]
-no shade from the blistering midday sun
-no facilities to shower or to go to the bathroom
-no place to store the few things you own
-no bed except the bedrock of the earth to rest your body on
-malnourished from lack of nutritious food and drink
-subject to escalating vicious cycles of monotony
-alone, isolated from society, rejected, and dejected
-no friends, no one you can trust, no family to support you
-faced with shame and humiliation
-viewed by society as a defect
-waning of hope to live

[how does one become homeless?]
“Their poor life choices led them to being poor and homeless.”

There is a distinction between “how” and “why” one becomes homeless.

The “how” addresses the steps or the individual dominoes that fall starting with the first leading to the last.

The “why” reveals the swift hand that pushes the first domino to fall.

Financial Upheavel
a. loss of job due to layoffs or other reasons resulting
b. unexpected loss of assets due to economical turmoil
c. financial mismanagement

Natural Disaster
a. increasing global activity of catastrophic storms that wipe out thousands of homes
b. accidental calamities that completely destroy uninsured homes

Physio-Psychological Health
a. physical injury / illness rendering one incapacitated to perform activities
b. mental instability / impairment that is socially inhibiting
c. psychological depression & anxiety
d. genetic predisposition to chemical dependency / addiction
e. traumatic physical, emotional, mental abuse

Sociological
a. disengagement / severance from a family unit that provides primary resources
b. legal judgment, restraining orders, eviction

Personal Preference
a. prefers streets vs. poor quality of provided services
b. preference for an itinerant lifestyle

[why are people homeless?] These are some of the inherent socio-structural reasons that spurs homelessness:

…lack of affordable housing
…lack of affordable health care
…lack of social safety net
…lack of community integration and momentum
…lack of personal support network
incompatible ideologies that expels dependent family members
…sole-dependency on the paradigm of individual housing

[are people victims of circumstance or is it the individual’s responsibility to reap the consequences of self-determination?]

The social well-being of all is a shared collective responsibility and it cannot depend on the lead of circumstances to determine whether or not we act to relieve the suffering from distress.

It does not serve a thriving collective existence when parts of it can barely achieve survival.

No matter the reasons, citizen X needs our help, and in order for the collective to thrive, we must help all in need, indiscriminately and without abandon.

The humankind is 100%. We are one [1] in infinite [] combination.

[what can I, one person, possibly do to affect this vast and compounding issue?]
“The problem is overwhelming, too complex, and I can’t possibly do anything to turn the tides. I have my own family to feed, as much as I’d like to help others, I can barely help myself.”

Homelessness is just one aspect of myriad interconnected global conditions: hunger, displacement, human trafficking, access to clean water, labor exploitation, corruption, pollution, poverty, and mass extinction.

Poverty and all of its interconnected intricacies is a colossal global issue that can only be remedied through concerted efforts guided by a keen uni-directional sense and an all-inclusive philosophy that avoids divisive discourse.

The weight of a turbulent world is daunting for any one person to bear, but we are far from being helpless or ineffectual.

I am one and with you, we are two, and another makes us three…and so on…

However, numbers is not our endgame, it is merely a means to accelerated progress.

One by one, and together as one, we can take practical steps to relieving these conditions by first addressing the immediate survival needs:

Need: People are hungry but have no access to food.

1. Provide food for people to eat.
…many organizations have already taken this initiative, however, the collective efforts are disconcerted
…shortage of food, at least in the U.S. is not the issue, rather it goes back to the fluidity of distribution
…lack of coordination has created periods of excess and scarcity instead of a steady supply cycle for recipients of services
…with concerted effort, we can convert excess quantity into concentrated quality of nourishment
…instead of providing the average fare of survival quality food (left-overs, day-old, canned, recycled), we can pool efforts to increase the standards of quality, serve people the same foods that we have at our own dinner table or better
…food directly affects a person’s psychology and physiology, while calories are enough to sustain general function, planning and high-level thinking can be nutritionally taxing requiring nutrient-dense food sources to supply the raw fuel to help people activate their full capabilities

Need: People have no access to clean clothes and essentials for living in the modern world.

2. Provide clothing and necessary supplies for comfortable living.
…used donated clothing can keep a person warm and covered, and there’s an ample supply of it trickling down as a result of active consumerism
…however, without access to facilities for refreshing laundry, donated clothing becomes a disposable resource which has a negative impact on the environment while the unlimited demand remains unsatisfied
…again, with concerted effort, we can convert excess quantity of supply into providing a focused product that is more functional, reusable, and dignified
…the same paradigm can be applied to other necessities of comfort including sleeping

Need: People do not have a permanent residence, and are forced to occupy the streets.

3. Provide shelter equipped with basic comfort facilities.
…being forced to live on the streets can be subject one to an immense level of psychological violence
…to endure the survivalist conditions can be dehumanizing
…a shelter provides a triple benefit: (1) shields one from the physical elements, (2) protects from chronic aggravation of psychological stress, (3) alleviates some of the dehumanizing conditions living on the streets
…basic comfort facilities include private showers, bed and rest areas, aesthetically clean & hygienic implements, spatially commodious and a peaceful environment

[author: I.D.]