Homelessness: Three Forms

First off I would like to begin this essay by stating that while I have had experience helping to relieve homelessness, I am beyond blessed to share that I have never myself been homeless. I am by no means an expert on the topic, yet it is something that has come to my attention throughout the course of my life as being a chronic issue in our society and around the world. Many people suffer from being homeless and not having the resources and opportunities to provide a roof over their heads. While it is true that I have spent several months of my life living in a hotel and couch surfing from home to home, I have been fortunate enough to always have a roof over my head. Many people, however, are not equally as lucky and find themselves forced into homelessness for several reasons. Often, these people are seen by society in a stereotypical fashion as beggars living on the streets, looking downtrodden and asking for money. In reality, homelessness takes many forms and can be broken down into three categories: situations, cyclical and chronic.

In the situational category, homelessness occurs when an individual or family is forced into homelessness due to the loss of a job or certain practical object that provides for the group. Typically, this person is the main ‘breadwinner’ and due to their misfortune, is unable to continue providing safe and secure housing for themselves or family members. Individuals are most often found in the cyclical form, when a person frequently falls in and out of homelessness. This can be due to a variety of factors, including drug abuse, mental illness conditions and other people dealing with abuse in a variety of ways. Typically, a person will fall in and out of homelessness in a cyclical manner, once they are able to get off the street they end up returning to their previous habits. Finally, chronic homelessness deals with individuals who are on the street and without a home for extended periods of time with little to no opportunity for an adjustment to their situation. The resources available to them are very limited and because of this, they have no opportunity to escape homelessness and dig their way out.

Many factors influence homelessness and different governments and legal entities deal with homelessness in different ways. Society and culture embrace homelessness and it’s definition differently and this defines how it is responded to as a whole. While living in Madison, Wisconsin, I volunteered weekly with a homeless shelter where individuals would come in off the street and have a bed and meal prepared for them for the night. The shelter had certain limitations for guests and the goal was to move them from homelessness to employment and eventually a home. This experience was an introduction for me to what homelessness was and that there are remedies out there. While money is certainly a big aspect to funding homeless change, it is the programs and educational tools given to individuals that help motivate, inspire and create change to reduce homelessness, one step at a time. I encourage each and every person to learn more about the topic and make an informed decision about how homelessness affects your community and world around, and finally how you can get involved and help out solve the issue.

About the Author:
Brian Williamson
Age: 21
Portland Oregon
LMU Student
Major: Film Production