How to deal with homelessness

Someone just shared this video on LinkedIn and it struck me that, say, the local LibDems have no reason not to take similar action here in town, say, once a month. It would show true leadership.

Here in the UK, there is a lot of deep poverty (affecting approximately 30% of the population, while another 30 or 40% are not exactly well off but able to stay afloat) and increasing homelessness.

The main attitude here – probably linked to the British class system – only teaches the people in the lower 30% one thing, namely how to remain poor and powerless. It’s pervasive and paralysing. Also, whatever resulted in homelessness – usually lack of income – isn’t fixed by putting the person in a different home, and the majority of people overlook that completely.

That is what’s so great about Meir Kay’s approach. While watching, I was afraid that they would simply turn the guy out onto the streets again, with nowhere to store his new wardrobe and stuck without income. It’s good that people exist who do realize what  homelessness is mostly about and that making someone look poor and sad, as tends to be the advice given to homeless people in Britain, mainly keeps people trapped. (There is a point to it, though, because as soon as people think that you don’t fit the stereotype of the homeless person, support tends to drop away.)

The video had been shared on LinkedIn by someone who pointed out that there are a lot of myths about homelessness including the fact that it homelessness a lifestyle choice. I mostly run into the myth that it is (related to overspending by mail-ordering too much junk or) caused by drug or alcohol addiction and conditions such as schizophrenia. Or that it is the result of people having failed to go to the supermarket for that super-sized bottle of “help”.

In Britain, it’s mainly often caused by lack of income or by having been evicted because the home owner wanted to sell the property. Yes, it’s really often that simple.

On LinkedIn, I also learned about a initiative developed by a Melbourne property developer. It is called Housing all Australians, and is the brainchild of Robert Pradolin. So far, he has helped create two facilities, housing 68 women. (Put that way, it does sound a bit like institutionalizing the women, ha ha.)

In Australia, women over 50 often become homeless after a divorce, apparently.

Here in Britain, many young people are homeless. Because they can’t afford to rent a place or can’t get access to a place to rent because they have no credit history or poor credit history. (Even if you pay off all your debts, it does nothing for your credit score. It’s better not to pay them off at all. Isn’t that crazy?)

Homelessness can happen to literally anyone because homelessness is essentially the result of the one thing that you thought would never ever happen to you (including for example civil war in your currently highly stable country or an extreme weather event, earthquake or gas explosion driving you from you home).

We all have something that qualifies and only time will tell whether it is going to happen to you or not and whether you will be getting any support or not if it happens to you.


After I wrote the above, I spotted this tweet:


One thought on “How to deal with homelessness

  1. This “cutesy” project, on the other hand, is an unfortunate example of a project that mocks and infantilizes the homeless:

    Tying hot-water bottles to trees? Really?

    Creates a nice big gap between “us” and “them”.

    There are plenty of unused buildings in Britain. Britain has a little under 5000 rough sleepers and around 110,000 people who are more or less homeless. House them! Give them incomes that enable them to support themselves! Open up a few of the empty buildings to rough sleepers! Stop doing things like installing spikes and other “inventive” ideas that make the lives of rough sleepers even more difficult.

    Btw, FOOD also helps people stay warm.

    Not treating poor people as if they are potentially dangerous wild animals and ill-behaved by definition would be a nice idea too.

    (We need a lot less stigmatization in Britain, not more.)

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