Misconceptions Surrounding the Homeless
P1. There are many misconceptions people hold when it comes to the homeless population in the United States. Many are unforgiving and treat homeless people as though they are less than human and undeserving of compassion. Many look at the work Bornstein is creating as unnecessary, and promises no future solutions but rather wastes time and resources. There are people who feel there is a parasitic nature to the homeless and feel justified in how they will be antagonized. The problem with this mentality is that it stifles growth or opportunities for possible solutions and replaces these efforts with prejudice and apathy. A functioning society cannot afford to segregate its members in a way as classist as is this. The true measurement of society cannot be from how we treat our wealthy but from how we treat our less fortunate.
P2. James O’Connell explains how 40 percent of homeless people he has met in his lifetime are homeless because of a brain injury in “The Street Level Solution” by David Bornstein ““For many it was a head injury prior to the time they became homeless,” he said. “They became erratic. They’d have mood swings, bouts of explosive behavior. They couldn’t hold onto their jobs. Drinking made them feel better. They’d end up on the streets.” This breaks down a narrative that is in direct conflict with the stigma placed on homeless people. The misunderstanding of the homeless condition associates negative traits with these people rather than compassionate about their situation. We blame homelessness on the homeless because we associate them with negative behavior traits. We think of the homeless as failed humans and homelessness as the ultimate failure. The dehumanizing of the homeless perpetuates the myth that poverty is inevitable and that some people simply cannot be helped. We need to remember that the homeless may be dirty but they’re not undeserving; they were living normal lives until a tragic event took place. The side effects of a traumatic brain injury are sporadic behavior and loss of basic cognitive skills that are obvious requirements of an employer. The capitalistic system we live in today only categorizes people based of their usefulness to a business or skills so naturally a person that has an injury like this and possibly no immediate support system will fall by the way side as the injury continues to impair the person in question. The individualistic society we live in makes it hard for those in need to ask for help so they often do not. With the added hurdle of a brain injury it makes maintaining a stable normal life become a feat of a much higher magnitude.
P3. Humans are creatures of repetition and schedule these traits have allowed our species to thrive for centuries. The human mind is ingeniously adaptable to unfortunate situations and the same can be said about homeless people. When people become homeless they get into homeless habits and find a comfort zone in the desperation of their situation in order to survive. The years of living as a homeless person can have an impact on returning to a life with housing. Priorities are shifted from scraping food day to day to now managing relationships and finances. These changes even appear as formidable to a person who been away from social norms for a long time, “As with many complex social problems, when you get through the initial crisis, you have another problem to solve which is no less challenging. But it is a better problem.”stated by Bornstein explains how its hard for some homeless people to see the solution to their problem because of years of living in a particular manner.
P4. There are organizations throughout the nation looking at ways to solve the homeless issue in the United States. Many of the groups are met with opposition and people not understanding the issues taking place. In many organizations the new practices look at the idea of rather than give the homeless jobs so that they can afford housing, the best solution is to first provide housing first. This may seem counterintuitive and some may look at this plan with disdain since whenever money goes those in need those who are not look at the practice as an expense rather than a equally beneficial process. Although money is not just going down the drain. Logically looking at the issue its apparent that this demographic is known to cost the government money, money that some feel deserves to go to better places and resources enjoyed by the many and not the few unfortunate. However, it is important to realize regardless of if these programs are utilized or not money will be spent regardless. The homeless still go to hospitable emergency rooms and commit crimes using tax dollars regardless. A better system as organizations like “Common Ground” have proposed is instead of ostracizing those that need housing a better alternative would be to give these people a house and help them transition back into society so there is chance they could give back and live healthy productive lives.
Bornstein, David. “A Plan to Make Homelessness History.” Nytimes.com. N.p., Dec. 20. 2010. Web. 29 Jan. 2017.
Bornstein, David. “The Street-Level Solution.” Nytimes.com. N.p., 24 Dec. 2010. Web. 29 Jan. 2017.
Public knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about homeless peop. (1995). American Journal of Community Psychology, 23(4), 533. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.rowan.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/205342696?accountid=13605
Stolte, E. (2011, Nov 24). City commits $360,000 for chronically homeless; hundreds need more supervision, help, study says. Edmonton Journal Retrieved from http://ezproxy.rowan.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/906159500?accountid=13605