“Don’t people choose to be homeless?”

I was talking to one of my friends about homelessness. She said, “I see folks standing by the side of the freeway asking for money. But they seem fine to me. Don’t they choose to be homeless? Why aren’t they working?”
 
That’s a complicated question with a lot of issues. But one thing I’ll note is that disability can be hidden. Some physical disabilities are not readily apparent. Most mental disabilities are invisible. I’ve met folks who are able to bathe and dress themselves, but cannot work. They may have depression and miss work a couple days a month. They may have bipolar and have a hard time interacting with coworkers or supervisors. They may have schizophrenia and have difficulty concentrating on tasks.
 
Most folks I’ve met don’t want to be relying on government money. The process is bureaucratic. You could get cut off because some government employee makes a mistake or you forget to report a change in your situation. And the amount of money you get doesn’t cover your basic needs.
 
On a deeper level, humans are wired to be productive. We are made to find deep satisfaction in work. Most of the folks I’ve met really want to work, but need some help during their time of need.
 
Sure, some folks are just trying to abuse the system and not do anything. But that’s a tiny fraction of the people that I see. It’s unfair to brand an entire group of people based on the actions of a few.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *