James McNaughton

Project Manager/Founder, Homelessness And The Arts

This conversation is closed.

What are your views on Homelessness?

The Facts.

-Every day in England, 30 - 42 young people under the age of 25 become Homeless.
-On any given night in England, over 70,000 children/expected children are staying in Homelessness Accommodation
-Every 2 minutes, a Homeowner finds themselves at risk of becoming Homeless.

So, I run a small Homelessness Project in Newcastle upon Tyne in England, and part of that is to research into people's views of Homelessness Internationally, and Locally, so;

What are your views on Homelessness? Are they all addicts, will they ever amount to anything in their life? Do you think they just don't receive the correct support?

Do you think that the numerous stereotypes associated with the word "Homeless" hold alot of people back from taking the small steps towards independent life?

If you have anything else you would like to say then feel free to.

If possible, include where you got these views and opinions from, whether it be the media, through your work, or elsewhere.

I'd also be extremely interested to know about any work you do with regards to Homelessness (If applicable) As I'm only 19 and still, somewhat, inexperienced with everything! I'd love to know what it is you do within the Homelessness System in your city/Country, and how you became involved with it.

  • thumb
    May 15 2011: Homelessness is a hugely complex issue - a result of many causes.
    I tooka course in Community Psychology in grad school and learned so much but a lot of it was heart breaking. Mental illness and the downloading of the mentally ill out of institutions was a major cause. Disfunction in famiies contributes. Drug use and alcoholism. Lack of basic skills in financial matters. Political systems that support the rich and do not respond to the poor. Schools that do not provide for or encourage 'at risk youth' so that they can stay in school. The fear of unsafe shelters and the experiences many have in shelters makes them prefer the streets in many cases. Exploiters who would pay for a teenager's body without a single care for them as a person.
    No they are not all addicts but the grinding poverty and pain give an extra imputus for escape. Of course, they deserve support but we do not appear to have the proper mechanisms in place to give it to them in a truly helpful way. I so admire the people who are in the trenches-trying to help- persisting in helping - they are or should be our societal heroes.
  • thumb
    May 15 2011: I am so sad, and I must say disappointed, this is going to close without more involvement from the Ted Conversations community and hope we can try to visit it again in another conversation. Meanwhile, just to add to the record of this conversation, in the hope that someone will visit it in the archives, I want to recommend to excellent movies that show homelessness from he point of view of the homeless..Lucile Ball's Stone Pillow and the very popular Wendy & Lucy.
  • thumb
    May 15 2011: i refuse the false dichotomy that homeless is the opposite of home owner. maybe in the third world, if you lose your assets, you are pretty much screwed. but, say, in germany, if you lose your home, it does not make you homeless. being homeless is a very different issue. it is not an economic situation. to be a homeless, one has to give up. being a homeless is a mental state, a behavior, an attitude. thus it is something money can't solve. nor homes. nor giving food.
    • thumb
      May 15 2011: Hi Krisztian..I am not understanding, I am sure. Are you saying homeless people cause their own homelessness by giving up? remain in homelesness my giving up? Also, could you described what baout the German nodelof intervention is unique and in your opinion makes a difference in addressing homelessness.
      • thumb
        May 15 2011: "cause" is a strange wording here. if a man is crushed by life events, death of wife, or some other tragedy, or even series of tragedies, does his man cause his own mental collapse? granted, another man in the same situation would remain strong. but it is a choice? people can choose to be strong? i doubt.

        my point was that the cause of homelessness is a mental breakdown, and not lack of work opportunities or lack of home.

        in my neighborhood, i see a lot of homeless people. on my way to work, i pass by a homeless shelter. many of them have a bottle of wine, and cigarettes. plus they receive free shelter and food. which means they have an income of $2-$5 per day. it is probably more than a person gets in rural nepal. yet, they live a meaningful life with hope and dreams.

        it is not an economic issue.
        • thumb
          May 15 2011: In some cases. You are painting with a broad brush
        • thumb
          May 16 2011: Oh I see Krisztian..so you have formed your very strong opinions about homelessness by walking by them on the street on your way to work? I am sure you would agree that we see more, understand more in the context of a more direct engagement. in this case .like volunteering at the soup kitchen or at the shelter or one day bringing two mugs of tea..one for you one for the first homeless person you see and just talkingto that person with an open heart..without judgment just being willing to listen to what that person might have to say.My sister and her daughter, 30, both volunteer at a soup kitchen in their home city. My niece is always amazed at the folk she sees there..many of them actually working folk..people who have jobs but not jobs that pay enough for independent living. Lots of people all over America..many of them middle aged women, living in cars, washing in gas station restrooms, and turning up for work . The person serving you at your lunch counter could be one of those.I'll buy the tea. I challenge to hold your view and work in a soup kitchen one meal a week for a month. I also encourage you to see the two movies I suggested "Wendy & Lucy" a young girl trying to make her way across country in her baggy old car with her beloved dog to what she imagines are many job opportinities in Alaska. Her story is the story of many. And also, Krisztian, Lucille Ball in "Stone Pillow."
      • thumb
        May 16 2011: lindsay, this was one too many insult and misrepresentation of what i say. so from now on, you are ignored.
        • thumb
          May 16 2011: Your quote from above..your words in response to my civil and respectful query about what what your were arguing is

          " the cause of homelessness my point was that the cause of homelessness is a mental breakdown, and not lack of work opportunities or lack of home."(Krisztian Pinter)

          In support of that your "data" is that you walk by them in the street every day..your exact words ( I had asked you about the German model you referred to). But instead you offered your opinion ( actually your juddgments) based on walking by them in the street every day

          .res ipse loquitor

          Please cite one credible study on homelessnes that supports this absurd proposition that homelessness is not due to lack of work opportunities or lackof home.. This is Ted Conversations..not a place for rank opinion and memes. Do you consider your comments a respectful and dignified response to James and the issues he asks us to consider..to James only 19 himself running a homelessness project..Is the caliber of your comment a dignified , compassionate and respectful response to the plight of the growing numbers of homeless worldwide from many many causes but cief among them..economic conditions.Can you really think that these statement you have made with no credible support are a deserving and respectful response to James and his example of compassion and personal commitment.?
  • thumb
    May 15 2011: In any community where there is one homeless person, that community has failed. Many choose the freedom of life on the street to the conditions of life in shelters but that is not choosing homelessness. Homelessness is never a choice. It always a loss of home.
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      May 15 2011: wongmo..thank you for your personal ministry to the homeless.for obvious reasons most people think of housing..of getting people off the streets as the first cause and forget what you have said here about respect, kindness and humanity.

      perhaps you have heard of my friend Dr. Debbie Little Wyman's international ministry to the homeless..Ecclesia Ministries http://www.ecclesia-ministries.org/ Debbie always says that she feels closest to God in her friendships with the homeless..perhaps because their lives have been stripped of all non essential things.She hasn't published any of her writings yet but her sermons and meditations are often inspired by and drawn from the insights of the homeless.

      so I join you in your message..our first duty to the homeless as individuals is respect, compassion, dignity and one on one kindness. dare to make freinds with one homeless person. dare to sit in conversation with one homeless person. just one on one..just person to person.
  • thumb
    Apr 21 2011: Thank you Richard and Birdia, Much Appreciated!