If it was easy to know who was homeless then you wouldn’t have to ask “Why”, is Brian Nadon writing and trying to provide us with some insight on this topic? 

Good Question!

People think it’s easy to spot the homeless in our communities because many of us hold onto harmful stigmas. I have volunteered in homeless services for four years and have seen it all. Well, maybe not everything!

As someone who deals with both the general public through fundraising, speaking events, and the homeless through my volunteering, here are a few things you’re probably getting wrong about homelessness.

1. “If Homeless People Would Just ‘Get a Job,’ It Would Fix All of Their Problems”
2. “If I Give Homeless People Money, They’ll Just Buy Drugs or Alcohol”
3. “If a Person Becomes Homeless, They Probably Did Something to Deserve Their        Situation”
4. “Homeless People Shouldn’t Have Luxury Items, Like Cellphones or Computers”
5. “Homeless People Shouldn’t Have Pets”
6. “It’s Easy to Know Who Is Homeless”
homeless teen
Portrait of a young sad teen girl sitting with suitcase outdoors on the railway during the daytime

Is it really that easy to know who is homeless?

Keep in mind, the homeless are not all victims of poverty, they may be desperately wanting to get back into society, or they may even be talented people looking for work or working in temporary positions. And maybe – just maybe, they gave up everything in life and became homeless because they wanted to create a better world for themselves/for you.

How Do We Fix The Issue?

Nobody likes homelessness, but there are real, tangible solutions. The answer sounds simplistic, and it really is. Just give people a place to live.

No strings attached. That’s it. Give people places to live.

That statement sends waves of reactionary anger through some people. “You’re going to give people places to live?” Yes, because it saves more money settling a family or individual into a unit than it does to allow them to bounce around searching for safety and security.

Once an individual or family is secure, their other needs can be easily met because they’re in a fixed location. Employment, drug treatment, medical treatment, child care, mental health services, all become much more manageable when people have some peace of mind and aren’t left outside.

homeless man
Lonely homeless man is walking on the old bridge in mysterious fog
Gain Your Own Peace of Mind by Teaching Yourself to See Homeless People as People

Before you can even begin to address homelessness as an issue, you have to become comfortable with literally addressing homeless people. One of the easiest and most effective ways to do that is to get in the habit of actually seeing, and making eye contact with, homeless people.

The next time you pass a homeless person on the street, try to envision what really went wrong and why they ended up there. Dismissing all these people as failures, dropouts and drug addicts is grossly misleading. There is so much stigma attached to the homeless that it is difficult to overcome it. Try saying, “Hello – How are you?”, engage them in a conversation. If they don’t respond, try again another day or with another person.
And, if you don’t like homeless, can’t stand seeing “Tent City”, then become part of the solution to fixing it. Nobody deserves the challenges that are associated with homelessness, especially when you have the resources to fix it.
By Brian Nadon