Chad was first homeless at 9 years old. His mom lost the house they were living in, so they moved into their car. After a few years of living between vehicles and homeless shelters with his mother, Chad ended back on the streets homeless at 11 years old. Chad got into am trouble and was placed into foster care, then at 13 he ran away, and he has been homeless ever since. Chad is now 28, having spent most of his life homeless.
Chad says, “I don’t like being homeless, but that’s what I mainly know.” Chad has gotten used to homelessness. He’s really known knowing else.
When people see a homeless person like Chad in Venice Beach, they don’t know the backstory of how that person became homeless. Venice has always been a party city ever since Abbot Kinney founded Venice of America in 1905. Thousands of people, many of them artists, are attracted to the beach community for its Bohemian lifestyle. Like Chad, many are not living outside by choice. Life circumstances often childhood trauma push a person into homelessness. Once on the streets, it’s extremely hard to get out.
Most people blame homelessness on the person experiencing it instead of on the shortage of affordable housing, gainful employment, living wages, childhood trauma, or countless other reasons that put a person at risk. This lack of understanding creates a dangerous cycle of misperception that leads to the inability to effectively address the root causes of homelessness and poverty, as public sentiment affects public policy.
Some people hold onto the false belief that homelessness is a result of a person’s bad choices. Chad’s never had a chance to be a child or an adult. He’s never had a job. Chad doesn’t even own a pair of shoes. No one is going to hire Chad. There is a very good chance that Chad will spend the rest of his life homeless, dying outside at some point. But you can help change that.
Your voice can help end homelessness. If we do not fix the affordable housing crisis, homelessness will continue to get worse. Click here to tweet, email, call, or Facebook your federal and state legislators to tell them ending homelessness and creating more affordable housing is a priority to you.