Unreasonable Expectations

If you don’t really know and understand homelessness, how can you have any reasonable expectations about homeless people, especially about their rehabilitation back to an acceptable position in society?  Yet more and more, people are placing their expectations onto the homeless. This happens everywhere, with families, with homeless shelters, with downtown business partnerships, with HUD, and the list goes on.  None of these people have taken the time to truly understand homelessness and homeless people, and yet they feel completely comfortable placing expectations on the homeless.   You’ll hear your fellow citizens say something like, ‘why don’t they just get a job?” or they’ll tell a homeless person directly, “get a job, you bum,” as if all the homeless person needs to do is get a job and then miraculously all their problems are solved and they are no longer homeless.  Sorry to inform you, but employment doesn’t cure homelessness.  It will certainly assist in the process of leaving homelessness, but having a job is not a cure all.

People will also allow a homeless friend to stay with them for a while, but will then, suddenly and unexpectedly, will kick their homeless friend out of their house.   It usually starts out with “yeah you can stay until you get back on your feet” and the person expects that this will only take his homeless friend one month.  Of course the person never mentions this expectation to his homeless friend.   He just drops it like a bomb, when there’s nothing his homeless friend can do about it.  For you information, it takes about 3 to 4 months for the average homeless person to overcome their homelessness.   And this certainly does not take into consideration the issues that chronically homeless people deal with.

Business owners and other conservative types have convinced themselves that homeless people “choose” to be homeless, and that all homeless people need to do is “choose” to not be homeless, and everything will be taken care of.  This too is an unreasonable, and unrealistic, expectation.  The truth is, no one really chooses to be homeless.  Still, these business owners and conservative types, (and to be honest, no small number of liberals) believe that they can motivate the homeless to become “un”homeless, by making homelessness as difficult a life as possible.  The powerful business people talk to their politicians about what they think is best, and the politicians turn around and tell the police to take measures against the homeless, and they end up harassing the homeless in every possible way – they prevent the homeless from getting adequate sleep, the prevent the homeless from getting fed, they prevent the homeless from integrating with the rest of society.   Although none of their tactics have actually been proven to reduce homelessness, they persist, in the belief that next time they only need to be more forceful in their tactics against the homeless, to be successful.  And so things continually worsen for the homeless, more people end up dying while homeless, and the harassment by the police has only made getting out of homelessness all more the difficult.

All this and more happens only because people’s expectations of homeless people is not based on reality – they don’t really know or understand homeless people.   And so far, no one has made is a requirement of society that people have an accurate understanding.

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About Kevin Barbieux

I have been diagnosed as being chronically homeless. I write about my experiences and opinions of being homeless
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