For some people, the question of being kind to the unhoused is unnecessary as they are of the firm opinion that the general public should be kind to homeless people. They think so, given, for them, rough sleepers need love and help, which we don’t disagree with. However, this question deserves attention because everyone doesn’t think homeless people should be getting help. Specifically, there’s a group of people who think, consciously or subconsciously, that unhoused people shouldn’t get the charities we have for them and who also practice this line of thinking.
Should We Be Unkind and Uncharitable towards Homeless People?
Have you ever heard of the semblance of the following sentence, “It’s the choices they made,” being said in relation to homeless people? Homeless people have more troubles to deal with as some people intentionally do not want to help them, nor do they feel sympathy for them.
Social experiments and reports have shown that most average people do not show support for homeless people. They neither give them essential items, nor empathize with them.
A male subject who was on a social experiment, unknowing to him, was asked for alms by a faux homeless man, but he declined saying instead of giving alms to the homeless man, he would mutilate the money. There are many other cases as this. Some people in this category make excuses or simply ignore the unhoused, as they don’t have sympathy for them.
Some people, including shop owners, feel homeless people are a blemish to the environment and so do not want to see them around. Consequently, they carry out mean acts towards the relegated. Some things they do include destroying their chances of living close. Housing is human right and so governments should support the unhoused with permanent or temporary housing to secure them from all the atrocities done on them.
Brennon Jones, a charitable Philadelphia barber, giving free haircut to the homeless was ordered, in 2019, by a police officer to stop. This was in contrast to the praise the barber got from Mayor Jim Kenney in 2017 for doing the same thing. While it was claimed that the police was responding to complaints of hair flying around the area, there are speculations that the police was opposed to the act as it was deemed to be encouraging homelessness.
People who think homeless people do not deserve any type of support are not necessary being wicked as they believe they have a decent argument for their position. They hold that healthy-bodied persons shouldn’t be hapless in the streets. They feel getting a job could end homelessness. They also believe family or some social program can be useful. However, it may not be that simple and straightforward for many valid reasons.
Homeless People Are Prone to Violence and Abuse
Worse than the lack of empathy is the fact that homeless people are also exposed to a higher level of direct and deliberate violence, abuse and antisocial behaviours.
There are multiple accounts, across different years, of passersby and others verbally abusing, kicking or assaulting homeless people, whether they’re awake or asleep, in the open streets. In other words, they’re treated like pariahs; they’re treated as if they’re lesser than humans.
A study carried out in Wales and England showed that 80% of homeless people suffered violence, abuse and antisocial behaviour in the previous year. And 70% say it’s getting worse. The situation is not any different in other countries, including the USA.
One homeless man called Simon revealed he had been kicked by a man who had asked him whether he was homeless. Other experiences included being urinated on, getting sexually assaulted, having items thrown at them, being verbally harassed, intimidated, and threatened with violence.
One homeless Dave also gives account of his vicious experience. He has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and mental health problems with a massively reduced lung capacity. “I got kicked in the face while sleeping in a shop doorway in the town centre. I couldn’t believe the state of my face when I finally got ’round to looking at myself in a mirror,” he said. “There was blood everywhere, it wasn’t very nice but I had to pick myself and get on.”
Many homeless people had normal lives before. Dave reminisces his, “If I had a Christmas wish it would be that I could go back 10 years. I was married, had a gorgeous wife and two sons. As for life on the streets, ignorance is the worst thing but being acknowledged is nice.”
Further, homeless women also get raped too, relatively frequently. A good deal of homeless women report to have been raped at least once. This explains why homeless women chose to stay around people and social housing and camps.
Most women who have been raped have naively isolated themselves. It must be mentioned however that some of the rapists have been fellow homeless men, a behaviour which proves their poor mental state. Statistically, one of the biggest problems associated with homeless people is mental illness and another is the abuse of substances. And, these two are inextricably linked, one causing or encouraging the other.
These aversive experiences take a serious toll on victim’s mental wellbeing, making them feel alienated, which further makes it more difficult for the dejected heart to get out of homelessness.
Should We Be Kind and Charitable towards Homeless People
For some people it’s a given that homeless people should get whatever help they can get. This also is our position. While some people may not empathize with them, feeling it’s totally unnecessary to be homeless, the causes of homelessness are complex and cumulative. Some causes of homelessness are poverty, mental illness, life-changing diseases or injuries, abusive homes and addiction to substances which could be an outcome of one of the foregoing problems and which is intended as a means to cope with, until it becomes a chronic problem itself.
Other causes include low wages and salaries relative to the cost of living of a particular society or city; unavailability of affordable housing, inflation, eviction, divorce, the lack of a family and/or friends, a poor government and faulty systemic structures. Deductively, the causes of homelessness can be internal or external to the individual and, in both cases, are mostly uncontrollable or very difficult to be controlled.
It takes the last straw which could be one bad illness or the loss of a job for a person who has been experiencing poverty and can hardly afford basic necessities such as food, housing, clothing, childcare and healthcare to be rendered homeless.
As regards the argument that homeless people should get a job and get out of homelessness thereby, this is possible and credible. However, it’s not always easy or straightforward. For example, homelessness comes with poor hygiene, which may automatically lead to the disqualification of an applicant.
Further, the lack of a physical address is another potent challenge. Mention-worthy also is the fact that a lot of homeless people have poor mental health which is another keen challenge to getting and sustaining a job. By and large, unhoused people who are mentally stable can end homelessness by getting a job, although, to reiterate, this is not easy and some support will be useful. Lastly, whatever the situation, it is not the best to treat homeless people badly.
At this point, it is clear that a great deal of homeless people are victims of circumstances and that we ought to take it easy on them, and, on the other hand, give them the help they need. And, to rebut the following thinking, “If they have made the choice, they should as well live with it,” we mustn’t forget that if people should be forgiven, then people should also be empathized with. It’s remarkable that homeless once had normal lives like the average person. Also, it’s important to mention that some homeless people are vets who, among other things, are experiencing traumas from fighting to, ultimately, defend their people.
Homeless people shouldn’t be seen and treated like a disgrace to an economy, but victims of circumstances, needing some assistance.
Dave who was referenced above says this about the kindness he experienced, “A seven-year-old boy brought me a hot chocolate which was nice…”