Homelessness: A Societal Sickness

By Valerie Rice | October 22, 2020

I read a local news story about a small brushfire that had broken out in an empty field behind a grocery store. The amount of hate in the comments was appalling. Why, you ask? The field wasn’t empty; it is a homeless camp. One that police have been “fighting”  to clear for months. As if the homeless are an invading army and not members of our society, or some insidious enemy to destroy. This sickens me to my core. There are so many people who have an “Us vs. Them” or a dehumanizing view of homeless individuals that I fear for the lives, and rightfully so, of these individuals. I also realize that the police department is not the appropriate agency to be dealing with this population. So I have decided to provide you, my readers, with some insight and a closer look at these hate comments and the misinformation that leads to them.

WHY DO WE HAVE SO MANY HOMELESS?

This is a complex question with many answers. Like any societal problem, there is not a simple solution. But I will do my best to outline the basics. The first problem we have is that the cost of living has increased dramatically compared to our wages. People tend to think of our economy in terms of our stock market, but this does not reflect how the average wage earner is doing. Very few people actually play the stock market game in real life, especially now that the middle class is shrinking.

  • LOW WAGES
  • HIGH COST OF LIVING
  • LIMITED SOCIAL SUPPORTS
  • UNTREATED MENTAL ILLNESS
  • DISCRIMINATORY HOUSING POLICIES

The real indication is not even in our unemployment rate, which only shows  how many people apply for unemployment benefits, which not everyone qualifies for. For a more realistic picture of how we are doing, look at the percentage of people who are on food stamps, WIC, utilizing food banks, and underinsured. THAT will tell you just how difficult it is to get by. Another problem is mental illness. Like the which came first conundrum, it doesn’t matter which came first, because one begets the other. It is a vicious cycle, especially in terms of depression, substance abuse, and anxiety. Another reason is renting and housing qualifications. These are very often discriminatory or difficult to attain for the average worker, young people, or families. Have you ever lost a job? Tons of people, especially during the pandemic, have. Losing your job often leads to eviction, which makes you no longer eligible to rent or own a home. 

Human progress isn’t measured by industry. It’s measured by the value you place on a life. An unimportant life. A life without privilege. The boy who died on the river, that boy’s value is your value. That’s what defines an age, that’s… what defines a species. ” ~ Doctor Who ~

IGNORANCE IN THE COMMENTS

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Let’s look at some of those comments, shall we? “If people stopped giving them money, they would go somewhere else” J.L – Facebook. Well, sorry J.L., that is not how it works. In fact,many homeless people have money, they just are not allowed, or do not have enough, to get their own home. There is also the problem of home availability Not every community has enough homes for their population. I used to live in Boise, Idaho. I was homeless. Why? Housing crisis! The city had more households than houses, and even the homeless shelters had waiting lists. Additionally, these people have nowhere else to go. And why should they? They are members of your community. “The bottom feeding, homeless scum, strike again.” M.K – Facebook. Okay, really? Many homeless people have jobs, so “scum” is a little harsh; and they only eat from the bottom because they have no way to store and prepare food. So yes, the rotten and moldy food handed out in soup kitchens IS bottom feeding, but oftentimes the only option. “They need fire to light their joints” N.L.- Facebook Uh huh, and so do you. The vast majority of people in Colorado smoke pot, for both medicinal and recreational reasons.. What’s your point? It is one of our largest industries. It is completely unrelated to housing status. 

A LITTLE TRUTH

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Being homeless is expensive. Yeah, it is. So I told you a lot of these people work, sometimes more than one job. They pay their taxes just like everybody else, and are spat upon by the majority of society. But they are members of society just like everybody else. Did you know that it costs $3 every time you need a shower? Yes, it’s true, unless you are lucky enough to have access to a shelter with shower accessibility. You can pay the YMCA for each member of your family. For me it was $18 a day to get everyone washed up at the Y. 

Photo by zhang kaiyv on Pexels.com

Did you know you have to pay every time you need to use the bathroom? Also true, because businesses have no public restrooms, so you have to become a paying customer. If they will let you. They have the right to refuse service to anyone, and looking homeless means you are probably going to be denied service. This is not just for stores, but public spaces, like libraries. You can get ticketed for sitting on a park bench. It’s called loitering, even though that’s what the park and benches are for, most people don’t like the look of homeless people so you have to keep moving. If you want to wash your clothes, you have to buy your laundry soap every time you wash. Which is expensive. Those convenience sizes cost a ton over time.

But you have no way to store your possessions, so you have to cut back on what you can carry. Which reminds me….you get robbed. A lot. And so you constantly have to buy clothes, shoes, toiletries, and replace medications. It is incredibly dangerous, and not just because of the people. You are more likely to die from exposure, dehydration, and untreated illness. 

Look, there is a lot that goes into being homeless, and I have yet to meet a person who actually wanted to be in that position. It truly is a sickness of society, and only through a social effort can we cure it. We DO NOT need police, we need social supports, higher wages, and housing regulations. We DO NOT need rampant ignorance and judgement. Hard work on the part of the homeless is not enough to solve the problem. That is a myth perpetuated by certain groups who do not feel like lending a helping hand. In fact, the harder you work the worse you are treated, in my experience, and the less your wage. So maybe, JUST MAYBE, we can erase the stigma, advocate for our marginalized members of society, and improve the lives of everyone.

I’m not trying to win. I’m not doing this because I want to beat someone, because I hate someone, or because I want to blame someone. It’s not because it’s fun. God knows it’s not because it’s easy. It’s not even because it works because it hardly ever does. I do what I do because it’s right! Because it’s decent! And above all, it’s kind! It’s just that… Just kind. If I run away today, good people will die. If I stand and fight, some of them might live. Maybe not many, maybe not for long. Hey, you know, maybe there’s no point to any of this at all. But it’s the best I can do. So I’m going to do it. And I’m going to stand here doing it until it kills me. And you’re going to die too! Some day… And how will that be? Have you thought about it? What would you die for? Who I am is where I stand. Where I stand is where I fall.” — The Doctor

Published by vrice2010

A mother, an author, a nerd. After many years working in the fields of mental health and developmental disabilities, graduating from the University of Phoenix, and pouring my talents into my local community, I decided to spread my wings and reach a wider audience.

2 thoughts on “Homelessness: A Societal Sickness

  1. It angers me that in 2020, we still have people living on the streets, often through no fault of their own! We have a massive problem in the UK, particularly with the Veterans who fought and been injured while fighting someone else’s damn wars!

    Let’s see, when planning wars, if our politicians would put their kids on the front line. And when they come home, don’t let them in! That’s basically what our governments do! Rant over.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Homelessness, I remembered it as if it was yesterday. It is something that you don’t wish your enemies. Homeless means that you have no physical address. How do you have or keep appointment?.Where do you eat?.Where do you shower?.There are so many factors that can lead to homelessness. So when you see a homeless person don’t judge,not yet.Every homeless person has a story. Over thirty years ago, I was going out with my husband it was a rainy day, I saw some people belongings outside their television, bedding, wedding dresses, chairs,sofa been destroyed by rain. I asked my husband why should the landlord be so callous to evict human beings like this?.He giggled and kept giggling. I realized that he is either ignorant or do not think that it can happen to him.I quickly sat up and put on my seatbelts. And vowed not to be homeless. I went through the hate and wickedness.But still there were still so many wonderful people out there. Look you will find them.Since then I have monitored and paid attention to homelessness. Anyone can eas5be homeless if care is not taken. Any slightest thing can lead to bankruptcy without bailouts you become homelessness .
    But the major factors that lead to Homelessness are:
    LOW INCOME/LACK OF EDUCATION.
    HATE WITH INFINITE INTENSITY.
    DISCRIMINATION ON HOUSING.
    LACK OF SOCIAL SUPPORT.
    MENTAL ILLNESS.
    STUBBORNNESS.
    DRUG ABUSE.
    PANDEMIC.
    DOMESTIC TERRORISM.
    EXTERNAL TERRORISM.
    With low income you will live perpetual poverty, living from paycheck to paycheck and will never be able to make ends meet. You will then depend on credit cards and when you lose your job, you will simply crash because you have no savings. No promotion because you don’t have the qualifications to advance. And if you are a ” person of color” let me borrow their new phrase.You should be grateful that they have retained you.There is nothing to be grateful about. This is the time to move forward. Hold the iron when it is hot.Look for a better job while you’re in one job. Otherwise any slightest thing will push you off the cliff. Get your EDUCATION in a lucrative area and improve your LOW INCOME.
    HATE WITH INFINITE INTENSITY:People of color are severely punished, damaged,scar for life or killed for nothing. 37years imprisonment for the crime that you did not commit. Lies,dishonest, deception and hate are the orders of the day.Hatred for nothing over the skin color or hair that is not created by you. If anyone have a question, they should question God and not you.Why silent me for nothing?.I saw this long time ago but is getting worse. Paralyzed me from waste down for what?.Know where and when you are not welcome because their focus will be to nail you and throw you in jail.Find your niche. Believe me there is someone out there that is ready to see you.
    LACK OF SOCIAL SUPPORT. There are lack of social support for blacks, minorities,and people with different sexual orientation.These should change this blacks and Hispanics should not be discriminated against or people with different sexual orientation.Hispanic person is killed .”Oh he is illegal alien “.My goodness before the illegal is a human being. A gay man was killed. “Response oh he is a gay man”. That is very painful. What crime did he commit?. If you are homeless any BURNING BUSH is set on fire by homeless people. Provision for medical care,housing should be made for all groups of people provision equal employment opportunities. Not putting the signs on the window. They will hire one black today “oh we hired one”.But a week later you are fired.
    MENTAL ILLNESS : Should be addressed and not taken for granted. Understand when you are depressed and seek counseling. Take care of yourself, listen to yourself and pamper yourself. Seek Medical professionals don’t worry about been stigmatized. If you recover they will all forget it.
    STUBBORNNESS:Please remember that so many people don’t care about you,so don’t be stubborn. Do not be unwilling to make changes. Do not set unrealistic expectations. Some homeless people will refuse shelter. You ask them why and they reply because “I don’t want people to tell me what to do “.Unfortunately shelters are now difficult to get because they’re so many people that want shelter but cannot get it. So they ended up being homeless. Some people have converted MOREL 6 ,and 8 into a permanent home.If you are homeless how do you do number ONE and number TWO?.You have to pay to do number one and number two. Otherwise you do it in the park and the police officers will arrest you for half naked. Then you are charged for “indecent exposure”. Really?.How?.You’re only trying to do number one. If you do not SHOWER you will stink (Smell like a rotten egg)whether you like it or not.
    DRUG ABUSE: Drug abuse can affect your thinking. You become very slow and dependent on drugs to do anything. Families and friends will stigmatize you and discriminate against you because they don’t want you around their children. You become an outcast.
    PANDEMIC: COVID19 PANDEMIC have lead to severe unemployment. Millions of people lost their jobs. Each time that I see them crying, I just cry too.It is too pain. Some people became sick from COVID19 and cannot return to work anytime soon and have no money. The stimulus check take”they kingdom come” to get to people’s hands.Meanwhile COVID19 PANDEMIC is raging like wildfires and taking away lives.
    DOMESTIC TERRORISM: Most of the time ignorant, hate and pure lack of understanding are the factors that lead to domestic threats and violence. These people don’t watch the news,don’t pay attention but pays attention to their cult leaders. He or she feeds them with unfounded baseless claims and accusations and they run helter skelter to fulfill his or agenda. And who are their targets- people of color.
    EXTERNAL TERRORISM:Who is their targeted audience?.It can be anyone, building or information.

    Like

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