So, another homeless person has written a book about homelessness. Author: Homelessness ‘can happen to anyone’. Yet from this article it sounds very much like this book is just another regurgitation of all the cliches ever said about homelessness, and doesn’t get people any closer to understanding the realities of the experience. As much comfort to homeless people, and discomfort to non-homeless people that this phrase gives, it’s just not true. Actually this cliche serves several purposes. Mostly, it is used by homeless people in an attempt to get the general population to believe that the homeless are just like everyone else, and are just unlucky to have homelessness happen to them. This cliche is also often used to elicit sympathy from the general population for homeless people’s misfortune. And homeless people have found a side benefit in that the idea inspires people to donate to homeless people and homeless institutions.
Articles like this one which, “tell the story of the homeless” seem to always brush over quickly one aspect of homelessness. The homeless person interviewed here talks about how at one point he was worth a lot of money. I don’t doubt that. you don’t have to be stupid or poor to become homeless. This person also talks about suffering from depression, which I certainly don’t doubt. If you weren’t depressed before becoming homeless, you most certainly will be once you are. Yet, about 10 percent of the population suffers from depression. Only about 1 in 400 people in the United States are homeless. What is stated in the article, yet not expounded on, is that at one point this man’s family disowned him. The whys and wherefores are not discussed in this article. Hopefully they are in his book. I make a point of this because I believe, from all my experiences, that the lose of one’s life foundation is truly one of the keys to the gates of homelessness. Poverty, and the many situations that cause it, are not causes of homelessness. Neither is depression. Instead, I believe that homelessness happens when all of a person’s connections, be they friends or family members, desert you. And that happens when the homeless person’s problems became more than his peeps could tolerate. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the homeless person was a complete jerk, people have different thresholds to what they will tolerate. Ol’ Jeffery Dahmer’s mother still loved him and supported him, even after she found out what he’d done. On the other side, I had a friend who, in the fifth grade, came home from school to find that his parents had packed up and moved away without telling him, and literally abandoning him.
To really get at the heart of what causes homelessness, we need to look closely at the social dynamics of personal support structures, how they are built, and how they collapse.