Who Can Become Homeless?

Posted: October 12, 2008 in Employment, Family, Health, Homeless Shelters, Homelessness, Misconceptions

Like most websites, this blog has its own "administration" section which allows me to maintain the site. It also allows me to see such things as: how many folks have visited; which posts were read; which links have been clicked on and so forth. One additional feature is the ability to see how folks have found the site. More accurately, it allows me to see what search inquiries were used in the various search engines.  

A couple of days ago, as I read through the search inquires, there were two which caught my eye straightaway because they were in this exact order:

  • homelessness could not happen to me
  • why should i care about the homeless

The second search inquiry, "why should I care about the homeless", is one which shows up quite often. However, that it was directly under "homeless could not happen to me", caused it to really stand out.

I have no way of knowing if both search strings were used by the same person or not, but I found their proximity to one another intriguing. Partly this was because it seemed as though someone where actually saying that since homelessness could not possibly happen to them, why then should they bother caring about the homeless at all.

Admittedly, I’m probably reading more into the coincidence than I should. However, it made me think that perhaps there are folks who do feel that way. They don’t believe that they might ever become homeless and, as a result, never give a thought to helping the homeless. Or, perhaps some folks feel that homelessness could never happen to them because they are good people, or that they have their lives "together."

The reality is that homelessness can and does occur in the lives of the average everyday person. And it seems to be occurring with more frequency now considering the current economic climate, the housing crisis and the record high levels of unemployment. More and more "regular" folks are finding themselves without a roof over their heads.

These aren’t folks who are lazy. They aren’t folks who have done something wrong or who have "ruined" their own lives. They aren’t bad people. They aren’t folks who are financially irresponsible. In fact, most of them are folks who, like the rest of us, were simply doing their best to pay their bills and keep food on the table.

That they’ve found themselves homeless can be a result of numerous circumstances. It might have been a job loss due to corporate downsizing or outsourcing. It could have been a medical emergency. Or perhaps, because of the skyrocketing prices for goods and services, they found themselves unable to pay their mortgages and their homes were foreclosed on. There are myriads of reasons for why folks are becoming homeless in today’s day and age. And, except for those who are overly wealthy, there are very few who are completely immune from the possibility of homelessness occurring to them.

For example –

I came across a small article from WINK News, in East Naples, Florida. The article, Homelessness rising among working and middle class, told about two specific families which have found themselves homeless due to circumstances beyond their control.

In the first instance, Chris Flemke and his family found themselves homeless when heart related health issues caused him the inability to maintain steady employment for nearly a year. In the end, he wasn’t able to make his mortgage payments and the family was evicted from their home.

The second family, Robert and Sherrie DeHart, also found themselves homeless due to health related issues. In addition, the sagging national economy cost them their business.

Neither of these two families were what could be considered as candidates for homelessness. Both Mr. Flemke and Mr. DeHart were hard working individuals. It isn’t as though they weren’t doing the best they could to make a better life for themselves and their families. And, I’m willing to wager that neither one of them thought that they’d ever face the reality of homelessness in their own lives.

Over the last decade or two, the demographics of homelessness have changed exponentially. Gone are the days of the homeless being only single adult males. Homelessness among families is on the increase. And, families are now the fastest growing segment of America’s homeless population.

Despite this however, there has not been a shift in government policy regarding providing assistance to these families. Homeless support services organizations are still primarily functioning as emergency shelters for single adults – with little or no resources allocated for providing aid or accommodations for families. In addition, the majority of people continue to view homelessness through the eyes of stereotypes; believing that the homeless are all derelicts who have an addiction disorder, or who are just too lazy to work.

Consequently, families who find themselves homeless are remaining homeless for extended lengths of time.

Who can become homeless?

Anyone – including you.

Consider this last these last two lines from the news article,

For now, the DeHart’s are thankful for the help they’re getting at St. Matthew’s House, as is Flemke, who says he’s learned being homeless can happen to anyone.

"Don’t think it can’t," he says.

  1. Skye says:

    Witness the huge migration of adult children moving “back home”, both married and unmarried, with and without children. My 27 year old son lives with me, partly because he doesn’t make enough right now to support himself. (that isn’t the only reason, but an important one)

    So many MORE people would be homeless if they couldn’t move “back home”. Very scary!

  2. discotrash says:

    I saw your URL both in the New Times and on another site about homelessness on wordpress. Anyway as someone who’s just been laid off I just wanted to say you’re doing good here, pointing out that other people can find themselves in the homeless situation. ive been lucky so far, but ive only been on unemployment for about a month. Keep doing what you’re doing, it’s a good thing.

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