Learn about the challenges of homelessness and why you must never be unhoused.
Empathy is the only way to gain an insight into what homeless people go through and how they feel. However, because empathy is only vicarious, one cannot truly understand what unhoused people experience and how they feel.
The challenges of homelessness vary depending on the environment and the individual. The life of the homeless is obviously undesirable, deplorable, pathetic and insecure.
Challenges of Homelessness and the Adversity of the Unhoused
The adversities of homelessness manifests across different aspects of the subject’s life — psychological, physical, social and physiological aspects.
Psychological Challenges of Homelessness
Just as the physical and social well-being of a person affects their psychological state, so do the physical and social realities of people without housing affect their psychological states. And the resulting states are similar, irrespective of race.
Homeless people need kindness, but they sometimes get the polar opposite, and sometimes even worse — violence. Homeless people are so pushed to the wall, that some of them request for alms. This defies the human pride. And a worse blow to the psyche is having to look into wastes for useful items.
There are plethora of corporate media reports on how people are mean towards homeless people. Some unkind people ignore, verbally or physically abuse them, including kicking and spitting at them, without a reason. Women also get raped, where they have no power to pursue justice. These effectively create the atmosphere of alienation around rough sleepers, making them feel dejected and estranged.
Humans are social beings. Average people need to satisfy the need of a sense of belonging. Getting the harsh opposite in times of tribulation then is smothering and that culminates in getting killed insidiously. It’s as if sitting or sleeping in front of people who are having normal, wholesome or happy lives isn’t humiliating and sad enough.
Homelessness is associated with lack. This deafening lack makes people without housing appreciate more, which could easily become pathetic. The lack of basic things; the disgraceful display of a hapless self before everyone every day. The associated abuses from mean and uncivil people, including other things and thoughts unhoused people experience all result in gloominess, low self-esteem and self-pity.
When people don’t care; when the unhoused individual’s effort can’t help and when the government doesn’t show concern, most unhoused people start to stop fighting. They soon give up and also give up on themselves. In times like these, and when the adversity of homelessness has taken a toll on them, they take to substance consumption and/or may develop some mental illness.
Substance abuse and mental illness are both causes and consequences of homelessness. Queries have shown that chronic addicts or severely mentally sick people have been pushed out in the streets and also that a great deal of people experiencing homelessness end up depending on some drugs or alcohol consumption, as a means to cope through.
In the US, for example, around 30% of chronically homeless people have mental health conditions. And, the National Coalition for the Homeless found that 38% of people living in the streets depend on alcohol, while 26% depend on other substances.
With regards to violence, which homeless people get an abundance of, the homeless are in a constant state of fear, and this gets even worse in an ominous atmosphere.
Given the foregoing, homelessness is like an abyss. Many chronically homeless people find it very difficult to end homelessness, reports show.
Enumerated, the challenges of homeless people include:
- Mild to deep sadness
- Mild to severe feeling of devastation
- The loss and lack of basic human pride
- The dearth of happiness
- Low self-esteem
- The lack of true joy. Homeless people may smile and laugh, but there’s no or hardly true joy within
- The feeling of defeat
- The death of a fighting spirit
- The loss and lack of hope, or the scarcity of it
We have written a poem for homeless people, you should see it.
Physical Challenges of Homelessness
The physical aspect of the lives of homeless people boasts a lot of adversities for them. While they arouse pity, they don’t, in everyone, as some people consider them as lazy and/or distasteful. This results in meanness, abuse and violence towards them. The fact that they’re vulnerable is also contributory.
Hence, street sleepers are subjected to a shocking and unacceptable level of abuse and violence by the public, studies show. They also show that the unhoused are 17 and 15 times more likely, than average people, to have been a victim of violence and verbal abuse, respectively. Violence against the unhoused cannot only be humiliating and vicious, but also fatal.
Some Godless and unlawful treatment towards the homeless include getting urinated on, sexually assaulted, verbally abused, pelted, harassed, vandalized, intimidated, and threatened with violence.
Violence directed at homeless people is constant, mundane, and devastating, yet, under-recognized.
80% of people without accommodation reported being victims of a range of unlawful treatment. A majority of the victims do not bother to report their plight to the police as they believe nothing will be done about it.
In 2016, San Antonio Officer Matthew Luckhurst found dog poop, bread and a container on the ground, put it in together, and served it to a homeless man as a joke. This is humiliating.
I couldn’t believe the state of my face when I finally got ’round to looking at myself in a mirror,” said homeless Dave who got kicked on his face while he was asleep, according to Mirror.co.uk.
In 2018 a 35-year-old man and 42-year-old woman were doused in battery acid as they slept in Mission Hills Park, California. Both victims were taken to a hospital to treat their chemical burns.
A homeless man, Simon, told a story of his untoward experience with a man who asked him whether he’s homeless, once he confirmed to him that he was, he kicked Simon.
While sexual assault statistics affect the entire homeless populations, data shows that homeless women and youth are particularly susceptible to sexual assault.
Research by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center shows that while 1-3% of the general youth population report sexual assault, 21-42% of homeless youth, being an awful lot, have reported sexual assault. One-third of teens are lured into prostitution within 48 hours of living on the street and one-third of homeless youth engage in survival sex.
A research report showed that 78.3% of homeless women in the study have been subjected to rape, physical assault, and/or stalking. Specifically, of victimized respondents, 55.9% had been raped, 72.2% had been physically assaulted and 25.4% had been subjected to stalking.
Homeless victims of sexual assault, sadly, lack access to legal, medical and mental health services, which can worsen the post traumatic effects of an assault.
Another aspect of the physical troubles of homelessness includes consequent sicknesses and diseases, mental illness, poor healthcare, poor personal and environmental hygiene, discomfort in sleeping, exposure to harsh weather conditions, hunger and malnutrition.
Causes of Homelessness
To avoid getting homeless, knowing what causes homelessness is necessary. Homelessness can be caused by one drastic life-changing event or an accumulation of different events or factors.
Specifically, the following have been identified as dominant causes of the loss of a home and the inability to get and sustain another: addiction to substances, mental illness, domestic violence, unreliable relationships or the lack of a good one, injury, low salary, inflation, high cost of living including high accommodation cost, poor governance, faulty government structures, discrimination, et cetera.
Notwithstanding the foregoing factors, the primary cause of homelessness is poverty. Whatever a person is experiencing, if they don’t have the lack of money to sufficiently fund their lifestyle with, then one or some of the aforementioned factors can’t make them homeless.
See details on the causes of homelessness
Homeless people get subjected to humiliating and vicious treatment by callous people, significantly because they’re vulnerable. This further takes a toll on them forcing and holding them in devastation and gloominess.
At this juncture, is it any wonder that a homeless person has a lower life expectancy which is placed at 20–30 years younger than the average person?
The gruesome experiences of homelessness is shocking to the writer as he didn’t have this much insight into the lives of homeless people, until the research for this writing.
People should ensure to not become homeless, because, as can be seen above, the effects of homelessness are insufferable.
Mention-worthy, due to longstanding effects of structural racism, Black and Native Americans are overrepresented in the homeless population.