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What is the way out of homelessness? Is there a way?

It's so easy for one to say: "Get a job". Getting a job is almost impossible without an address and if you were able to get a job could you afford to rent a room or a place to live? Where would one start?

  • Jul 7 2012: I have to agree with RH.
    Any society that allows homelessness and other horrible ills of human life, does not deserve to be called or thought of as "civilized". In fact, in all the world, civilization has yet to begin.

    I guess if there was one thing I could change it would be for whites to walk in shoes of black people , women to inhabit men's bodies, adults to enter children's minds, eyes and bodies, for rich to live in poverty until we not only understand, but we care enough that such horrible conditions are so immediately unacceptable, that we end them.

    We do it not because it is the right thing to do but because it is the only thing to do. Nothing else should matter.

    Horribly, we know this today, now and have known it for a long time and have not changed it one iota.

    And so what, if one willingly chose to be homeless. Why would a person do such a thing? How bad are we all making it for others that one would do that? It has to pretty bad. When a person no longer cares, people misconstrue what that means or what it really is.

    It is a tool, used to help them get through, to survive another day where life is just another kind of violent threat.
  • Jun 15 2012: R H i apologize for misconstruing what it is you said and responding with contempt. I should have given you the benefit of the doubt, but the sad truth is that i have probably been conditioned to a degree to defend with vigor,the views you bolster in your response, against the apathetic response to homelessness i hear so commonly. I have been misunderstood on TED as well, so i empathize with you and look forward to future conversations.
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    Jun 15 2012: If somebody is homeless, unable to 'get a job,' and looking for an affordable place to recover, then consider whether or not that same individual has been diagnosed and treated for any given mental illness. Chances are it's some form of substance abuse. Also, chances are that any job experience had only counted off-the-books. Then again, stereotypes aside, homeless individuals such as Charles Bukowski embraced the beaten path and called it a dirt road. He made degeneracy attractive* - almost infamous of Henry Miller. It follows then that it's optional to go without help. The world is here for us to learn from, and our observations are what experiences shape into...
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    R H

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    Jun 15 2012: In my opinion, the way out of homelessness is to make it unacceptable. Something that can't happen, like murdering someone or a group of people. or raping children, or conducting experiments on people against their will, or pouring toxic sludge in a water supply at a school. Yes, those things still happen in isolation, but there are severe and immediate outrage and repurcussions. We accept homelessness. We make excuses as to why it exists. It's 'too bad, terrible and awful', but acceptable. We then wonder why people turn away from society and become malevolent towards it. Then we pay for the locating (police), containment (prisons), and rehab (a myriad of social services) of those who have lost faith in social norms and try to take their lives back. Doesn't seem like an effective 'make work' method, does it?
    • Jun 15 2012: Those who have lost faith in social norms? R.H. you've got to be kidding me. An alarming amount of the homeless suffer from severely debilitating untreated mental illness. By equating homelessness to murder and pedophelia,won't make a schizophrenic stop hallucinating.

      What is it that your proposing we do instead of attempting to rehabilitate the homeless?

      Would the tactics used in clockwork orange be a reasonable solution for you? These are people that have not just "lost faith in social norms" they are absolutely broken and have become slaves to their brain chemistry.

      There are some that choose to be homeless, but do you think this is a rational decision? Not by my standards. These people obviously can't take care of themselves in their current state.

      R.H just by being on TED I can tell you are more fortunate than the average homeless individual, I suggest you express some gratitude for this instead of complaining about having to pay for the services, that although don't always work, have at least a humanistic undertone to them. Read up on mental illness like schizophrenia or drug addiction look at what is actually happening to these people, maybe then you could muster some compassion and understanding vs apathy and malice.

      Homelessness is a byproduct of modern life just as mental illness is. Until we can begin to understand and empathize with those who are in this condition the problem will remain unsolved.

      I don't have the unassailable answer to this problem, but i know that the answer certainly isn't equating homelessness to pouring toxic sludge into a water supply.

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        R H

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        Jun 15 2012: This would be laughable if it wasn't so sad. I constantly find it amazing that we tend to default to the worst possible interpretation of a statement - just like lawyers and politicians doing battle. Rather than thinking "making homelessness unacceptable means society ALLOWS people to be homeless and they shouldn't" or "he means homelessness is such a bad thing to happen to people he's comparing it to other horrifying events that happen to people", we have the response above. I sincerely apologize for my lack of clarity. I would hope an apology would by forthcoming from you for your inconsiderate interpretation - not even giving the benefit of the doubt, or asking clarifying questions before making such outlandish assumptions. But no matter. I've seen this before. So let me clarify for you: This 'idea' is about homelessness, not 'mentally ill' homeless. Although there are people that are mentally ill and homeless, the vast majority of homeless are not commonly categorized as 'mentally ill'. I myself have been homeless. Paul Mitchell and many other famous people have been homeless. Homelessness is a social abomination to me. Not that the people who are forced to be homeless are abominable - far from it, but the society that allows it's citizens to be homeless is an abominable society. ANY society that calls itself 'civilized' should not allow/permit/tolerate it's citizens being homeless - any of them. A society that allows for it's citizens to not have basic shelter is not to be honored with the title of 'civilized' - in my opinion. By tolerating that we accept that people are homeless in our society,we incur increased costs in police, prisons, and social welfare. If we provided basic shelter for those who have to date been unsuccessful in society - for whatever reason - the costs of providing this shelter would be (in my opinion) paid for by the savings in those current services as a result of people having less need to become despondent and malevolent. Better?
  • Jun 14 2012: I think freeloaders are a very small part of the problem. In the USA, a bigger part is the mentally ill population. Letting these people fend for themselves under the guise of protecting their rights is a national scandal.

    I am scared to my core of losing my house. My wife is chronically ill with Lupus. I have been missing a lot of work lately because she has become very weak and falls down a lot. What happens when I can't meet my mortgage payments? My mortgage payments are lower than rent payments, so renting is not an option.

    There are millions of people in the USA who are unable to shelter themselves because of health reasons. And our public assistance for these people is far from adequate.
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    Jun 14 2012: Marian,
    One would start by WANTING to take the first step toward a different life style. This topic has been addressed several times on TED. Have you looked at any of those comment threads? There are quite a few interconnected agencies, which provide resources in most areas of the US. You can google "need shelter", "need food", and plug in your area, and a list of resources will pop up. Nothing is impossible when one has the intent to move out of a certain lifestyle.
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    Jun 14 2012: The endless concern about the homeless creates many avenues for them to receive endless swag, the reality is that it just encourages them to remain homeless. Quit drinking the Kool Aid please...
    • M D

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      Jun 14 2012: I think you may be confusing people under the poverty line living in council estates or low income housing who can get a reasonable standard of living with state benefits, with people who are living on the streets and unable to access assistance.
      In my home country of Ireland this has been big in the news over the past 2-3 days as a burried report was unveiled that expressed concerns that 4/10 people would be better off on unemployment benefits and other welfare subsidies and exeptions than on a low income wage.
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        Jun 14 2012: I was speaking regarding the U.S.
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    Jun 14 2012: The best approach will depend on where you live. Sometimes the city and sometimes the county has tiers of subsidized housing, beginning with very short stays and extending to longer stays. Some programs are specifically geared to women with children.
    There are in some places work opportunities specifically for homeless or near homeless people. For example, I know someone who lives in subsidized housing in the neighborhood and is a newspaper vender for a paper that is distributed entirely by people who use that income to pay their part of the rent for an apartment.
    I don't know how address checking works in job applications, but no one could claim right now that finding a job is easy even with an address!
    One thing I know is that city and county governments expect calls about questions like this and have information relevant to your location.
    Also every county has a United Way nearby. The United Way typically identifies homelessness as a priority issue.
    Every location also has a public housing authority not far away. These may all be part of the federal department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or they may be more regional.
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    Jun 13 2012: Good Question