Whether We Make Houses of Money or Buy Them With It, We Don’t Have Enough to Solve Homelessness.
Homelessness is complex and it’s often misunderstood. People choose to look the other way. The rhetoric of, “it’s not my problem,” and “they should have made better choices,” are the norm.
But, after a crisis like Covid, many people who thought they were financially secure are experiencing a different side of living. Those that were previously “ok” financially are a paycheck away from being homeless themselves or don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Let’s take a closer look at homelessness and why money isn’t always the solution.
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Is going through a lengthy article a lot of work to solve homelessness? Here’s our YouTube video on the topic:
If reading makes you feel more at home, let’s move on to the first reason why money is not the answer to homelessness.
Why Do People Become Homeless and Who Is at Risk?
Unlike ponchos, homelessness is not a one size fits all.
Many homeless people have been the victims of violence and have fled their home life to escape. Mental illness, physical or health problems, drug addiction, not enough money to pay rent, joblessness, and natural disasters are all causes.
A homeless survey done in San Francisco in 2019 cited these reasons as the main causes of homelessness.
Job Loss – 26%
Drugs and alcohol – 18%
Eviction – 13%
Mental Illness – 8%
Anyone could be affected, especially when living paycheck to paycheck and something unexpected happens, like a car breakdown or a medical emergency, and you have no money left to pay the rent.
There are different kinds of homelessness, which we’ll look into next.
What Are the Different Categories of Homelessness?
Each country has their own definition of homelessness, for example, the Australian Bureau of Statistics classifies being homeless as the following:
“they are living in a dwelling that is inadequate; has no tenure, or if their initial tenure is short and not extendable; or does not allow them to have control of, and access to space for social relations.”
There are different categories of homelessness:
- Rough Sleeping: This is what we see when we drive around. Rough sleepers usually have health or mental problems, or are reliant on drugs. They are often exposed to violence.
- Chronic homelessness: People who have not had a home for over a year – usually older people.
- Episodic Homelessness: A person that has been homeless 3 times within a year – usually a younger person.
- Transitional Homelessness: Usually affects a person going through a major transitional, unexpected life event. Death of a family member, loss of income, divorce.
- Hidden Homelessness: This is the most common form which sees people living in their cars, couch surfing, crashing a few days here and there, sleeping on the floor in a garage or staying in overcrowded rooms.
Aluxers, next – a number that is frightening!
How Many People Are Regarded as Homeless?
1.6 billion people do not have access to adequate housing and 100 million people are homeless.
In Los Angeles, a city of almost 4-million people, there are roughly 60,000 homeless people. It’s become the main reason why people are selling up and leaving the city. You can learn more about it in our video – 15 Reasons why people are leaving Los Angeles. There are 54 blocks lined with tents in LA, called “skid row” where most of the homeless sleep.
The truth is, homelessness is a global problem – with very few countries remaining untouched. Some are worse off than others, as you’ll see next.
Which Countries Are Hit Worst? Which Are the Best and Why?
According to homelessworldcup.org, Africa is hard hit. Nigeria as one example, has 24.4 million people homeless. Zimbabwe has 1.2 million people on the government’s national housing waiting list and Mali has more than 80% of its population lacking adequate housing.
And these figures follow through to Asia and Oceania, Europe, North and Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.
Finland, on the other hand, is the only country where homelessness is on a sharp decline. A recent headline read: “Finland ends homelessness and provides shelter for all in need,” published on pressenza.com in July 2020.
They have a “housing first” concept. Anyone affected by homelessness gets a small place to live and counselling, helping 4 out of 5 people start their lives over. This has proven to be less expensive than homelessness.
So Aluxers, the big question… why won’t money solve homelessness?
Political Parties Don’t Always Believe That Homelessness Is the Main Priority
If there’s money that needs to be allocated to specific causes in a country, government often leave very little, if any, to fight homelessness.
Which is ironic, because as we’ve just seen in Finland, the government are saving money by putting people in affordable housing and rehabilitating them back into society. The welfare benefits were exceeding the costs of incorporating the homeless back into a healthy, acceptable positions.
Homelessness has its roots in policy choices, and when there is budget set aside for homelessness, it’s used to sustain those that are homeless as opposed to preventing it from happening. And until policy makers change their mindset, no budget is going to make the homelessness disappear.
Unscrupulous Politicians Use the Money for Their Own Gain and Not the People
Sadly, quite similar to our video, “15 Reasons why money doesn’t solve world hunger,” many governments or politicians are so concerned about lining their own pockets, the money doesn’t get used for its intended purpose.
Here’s an example. South Africa used to have a president called Jacob Zuma. He was president for almost 10-years and was well-known for misappropriating funds. South Africa is said to have around 200,000 people living on the street, and the great bulk of the population live in townships or informal settlements. They have no access to running water, electricity, and poverty is rife.
The former president used $28 million to upgrade his home, known as “Nkandla.” That’s $28 million of taxpayer’s money for his own house!
And while there are people like Jacob Zuma still in power, any money available will be going to housing, except not funding thousands of homes for the needy, but upgrading one home of the greedy.
All politicians didn’t exploit their way to the greens, but we’re in no place to point fingers. Check out the Richest Politicians in the World and decide for yourself.
Homelessness Is Often a Mental Health Issue
Aluxers, until a country is actively involved in helping those with mental issues, homelessness will just continue.
Many leaders do not give any time or money in addressing mental health, because they simply don’t understand it or would rather use the funding elsewhere.
This causes a ripple effect. Someone struggles with a mental health problem, which doesn’t get addressed. Their job doesn’t allow for what they deem “unnecessary” leave and the person can’t hold down the job. They get fired. Their families disown them, and they end up on the street.
This could have been avoided from the start, and until leaders accept and make those allowances – giving that person a home when the reason why they lost theirs is mental, is not the solution.
A tragic statistic is the high number of veterans that are homeless. They too struggle with mental or physical disabilities.
These people fought for their country and now they fight for a place to rest their head. On any given night – there are roughly 37,000 veterans experiencing homelessness.
Drug Addicts Account for a High Number of Homelessness
The two often go hand in hand: Substance abuse often leads to homelessness, or someone who becomes homeless will often resort to substance abuse. The National Coalition for the Homeless confirmed that 38% of the homeless were addicted to alcohol and 26% on other harmful narcotics.
So, you have money to solve homelessness, in this situation – where does it go? How do you pump money into something specific to stop this cycle from repeating? What do you think Aluxers?
Addictioncentre.com confirms that many homeless people suffer from dual diagnosis. This is a combination of substance abuse and a mental condition – often bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder – seen in veterans – major depression and severe anxiety. These conditions lead people to self-medicate to cope with the condition.
The amount of money needed to fix every person from the inside out is not deemed viable, and the destructive cycle continues. Again, until there is a change of mind or heart, money won’t fix the problem.
Speaking of change of heart, that’s something money can’t fix. Let’s explain what we mean.
The Sheer Lack of Empathy for People Inhibits the Desire to Help Them
Aluxers, the homeless have a bad rep for many reasons and those with money… or those who pretend to have money… show a severe lack of empathy.
Without knowing the reasons why a person is homeless, they’re labelled undisciplined, thief, druggie, an alci or just plain lazy. These stereotypes do little to help those in need of help.
Elitism, ignorance, or fear all drive this narrative. No amount of money can change that. We can hope that educating people will make a difference, but there is absolutely no guarantee.
Many Cities Are Criminalizing Homeless People
Considering what we’ve just said about how people view the homeless, many cities do little to help their cause either. Cities try to hide their homeless, are embarrassed by them and don’t make it easy for people to get clean to help them get jobs and live a more humane life.
Homeless people are victimized and when things go wrong, fingers are pointed at them. And sure, there are a small portion that “choose” to be on the streets, but for the majority, that’s the farthest thing from the truth.
It’s become a crime to be homeless. What happens when people see the homeless in their area? They call the police to get rid of them. Turning this hopeless situation into a crime is cruel and heartless, and money is not the answer… yet. Cities, governments, and politicians need to see the homeless as equal human beings and use their funding in the appropriate way.
It will cost them less to help the homeless back into society then waste money on law enforcement to get people without homes to move on.
Owning and Maintaining a Home Is Not Easy
In our video, “15 Things You Should NOT Spend Money On” we explain how many people make the mistake of buying too much house for their money.
We explained the concept of house poor where a person spends most of their money on their house but can’t manage to pay other financial obligations. It’s the downfall of many and another reason why others don’t empathise.
Many people don’t want to take responsibility for the poor decisions of others. And if people are unable to work efficiently with money and handle the responsibility of owning a home, then giving out a free house or money is not the solution.
Lack of Jobs
This is really a catch 22 situation. Lack of employment and the inability to pay for necessities, like a roof over one’s head, drives homelessness. However, when homeless, it’s difficult to write a résumé with a legit street address and phone number. A homeless person wont’ have a safe place to shower and clean up for an interview.
If they are “lucky” enough to find a job, it’s usually of such low income, that housing is still not an option. The jobs are usually unsafe and unregulated and there are no employee rights or benefits. This leads many homeless people resorting to dangerous ways to make money – selling drugs, sex work, stealing, or panhandling.
Money can’t always create employment. Employers also cite their lack of education and skills to address the needs of homeless people in their organization. Money can help, of course, but it doesn’t solve the root problems.
Violence, Especially Gbv, Pushes People to the Streets
GBV, sexual, physical, mental, emotional abuse – has caused many people to run away from “home” and live on the streets where they feel safer – ironic, isn’t it? 12% of people in shelters are survivors of domestic violence.
Homeless women tend to be more reliant on drugs because of the aftereffects and trauma caused by gender-based violence. Homeless women are more vulnerable and there is a lack of woman-centred shelters and services. One study confirmed that, “women as a homeless population have conventionally been left out of societal discourse, public policy, and research agendas, thereby affecting funding priorities and the development of service delivery models,” as cited from https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/
And until such times that women are taken seriously and are brought into the decision-making processes, money will be of no avail.
High Housing Costs Limits People Being Able to Afford a Home
In many cities, the cost of renting a spot has surpassed the standard wages of most people. When there are affordable options, the competition for that space is fierce. Until wages catch up with rental prices, the housing crisis will continue. Executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, Matthew Doherty, said “High cost and low vacancy rates are putting more people at risk of entering homelessness, and they’re making it harder and harder for people to find housing as they strive to exit homelessness.”
In crowded cities, there is also limited space available. Money can’t buy space that isn’t there and it gives property owners the freedom to charge exorbitant prices, knowing there are limited housing options.
What Can Be Done to Solve Homelessness?
Aluxers, we’re not helpless to help. Here are 6 things you can do to help those in need:
- Firstly, change your rhetoric. Instead of saying homeless person, say person experiencing homelessness. This places the person as more important than the homelessness.
- Greet people experiencing homelessness.
- Drop off care packages of essentials. Toothpaste, feminine products, soap, things needed to survive.
- Volunteer in a soup kitchen.
- Donate to reputable charities if you’re able to.
- Become an advocate for the homeless. They need it as much as you and your friends and family need it.
It takes a community to help an individual rise, and together, it is possible.
What advice can you give fellow Aluxers to help the homeless in their area? We’d love to hear your thoughts and tips.