Housing Homeless People Helps Everyone

housing homeless people helps everyone

Photo by Gary Butterfield on Unsplash


A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Housing should be a human right, and poor people shouldn’t be allowed to die in poverty in a country with more than enough resources to go around. But it may bother you to think someone is getting something for free that you had to work all your life for without help from anyone. Don’t worry, because you also can get something for free!

As it turns out, housing unhoused people benefits everyone, whether you’re unhoused yourself or own your own home free and clear. Rich or poor, bleeding heart or King of the NIMBYs – everyone having access to safe, permanent housing benefits everyone!

Think of the Children

Many parents have outlined their struggles with explaining the existence of homeless people to their children. To a child who’s not yet familiar with the cruelties and politics of the adult world, it can be challenging to understand why they have a warm bed to sleep in every night while some of their classmates don’t.

The indifference and inaction of adults is another difficult pill for them to swallow once they become aware of this issue.

If everyone had a home, you wouldn’t have to explain why little Timmy can’t come and live with your family. You could avoid twisting yourself into knots to explain why the values of kindness, empathy, and sharing you’ve been teaching your child all their life don’t apply in this situation. 

In a world where everyone is housed, you could model the behavior you want to see in your children by pointing out how a healthy community cares for everyone’s needs.

Education Advancements

Speaking of children, homelessness is a significant factor contributing to children missing school or dropping out entirely. It’s not at all uncommon for older children to quit school in order to provide a little more income for a family struggling with homelessness.

And, of course, it’s hard to summon the will to care about an upcoming math test when you’re also worrying about whether you can sleep through the night without being interrupted and told to move on.

Providing housing for everyone would prune back some of the significant issues children face that keep them from completing their educations. These children will grow up to be your politicians, lawyers, and nurses when you get older, so their ability to complete more successful schooling is a good thing for everyone!

Housing Brings Stability

We’ve often talked about how safe and permanent housing can provide stability in a formerly homeless person’s life, allowing them to grow and heal in many other ways.

It can be the bridge they need to address issues that may have arisen from their experience with homelessness, like substance abuse or health problems. But that process is not only beneficial to the individual- it’s beneficial to the entire community and society as a whole.

When our neighbors constantly fight for survival, they are often, understandably, unable to show up for others or offer their unique talents and skills the way they could if they weren’t forced to spend all their energy on securing necessities.

When the pressure eases, and everyone has a safe roof above their heads, they have so much more space to form relationships with others and share their gifts with the world.

And Yes, It Cleans Up Neighborhoods, Too

Once everyone has a place safer than the sidewalk to sleep at night, the NIMBY’s greatest wish for clean, spacious sidewalks and parks will finally be granted.

Business owners won’t have to waste precious hours calling the cops on people standing nearby, and maybe we can even have comfortable public park benches again.

Wouldn’t it be great if hostile architecture fell out of fashion and the public bathroom returned? 

These things make life better for everyone, but we’ve been restricting access to them for years to prevent unhoused people from overstaying their little welcome. We were willing to give up public conveniences like parks, seating, and bathrooms just because we knew that while it might be bad for us, it was even worse for our unhoused neighbors.

When we’re not so focused on ensuring that the “wrong” type of people don’t feel comfortable in a certain space, we can return to making public spaces comfortable and accessible for everyone.

The Normalization of Homelessness is Wearing Us Down

There is a cost to continuing homelessness that most of us don’t notice. It’s been resting on our shoulders since we were born. For many of us, it may only become visible once it’s gone. 

It’s not normal to see human suffering like this and feel nothing but contempt. That is a defense mechanism that some of us have developed to avoid feeling the weight of our complicity in that suffering. The normalization of homelessness atrophies our compassion and humanity for every day that goes by, with us doing nothing to address it. 

This insidious force decays our relationships with each other and the communities in which we live. It turns people against each other, casting one group as hopeless, helpless, something to be feared and scorned. It excuses violence, makes people invisible, and prevents us from connecting with an entire group of people at a single glance.

If there’s one benefit that housed people will feel most keenly after the end of homelessness, it is this: the staggering realization that the people who now live in the houses next to yours were people just like you all along.


Kayla Robbins

Kayla Robbins

  

Kayla Robbins is a freelance writer who works with big-hearted brands and businesses. When she's not working, she enjoys knitting socks, rolling d20s, and binging episodes of The Great British Bake Off.

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