Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Can we really end homelessness?

For hundreds of years homelessness has existed all over the world in one form or another. There have been many attempts to prevent or manage it. 

On one hand society says we should have freedom of choice about how we live our lives, but if this goes against the 'norm', we label the choice with a negative stereotype and eye them with suspicion.

From the top down (government to front line staff), everyone is working to end homelessness. Will it be OK to have few homeless people, or will we bring in tougher laws to make it impossible to sleep rough anywhere without being arrested irrespective of the support systems put in place?


  1. This is a bit like the conflict between travellers and the settled community, or autistic and mainstream thinkers. The majority try desperately not to dictate to the minority, but ultimately it is a design fault of democracy. We offer a roof over everyone's head to ensure our place in history as a civilised society, and if someone doesn't accept the offer, and does not cause problems to others, let them get on with it. Time and again rough sleepers point out how quickly they adapt to sleeping out after a few nights. Maybe its what we're meant to do, the minority is in tune, and we're the ones that need offers of help.

  2. Homelessness can be a personal choice or a result of life choices. I have met more people that would rather live in accommodation than on the streets. Rough Sleeping can be a brutal way of life and many people can not sustain this lifestyle without some kind of detrimental effect to their mental or physical health. Some believe this to be bit of a 'chicken and egg' theory, but surely the fact that life expectancy is much lower for rough sleepers than the rest of the country should go some way to arguing this point.
    For hundreds of years there has been homelessness and although our society seems to have developed it still looks down on those on the street or with alternative lifestyles of some kind. The difference is that rough sleeping is less tolerated by society, as being unjust and is seen as unacceptable because of the stereotypes it is associated with (begging, drinking and drug using in public, violence and aggression). I fear that in the not so distant future new laws will be created to prevent rough sleeping, so as to assist the government to achieve its goal of reducing homelessness.

  3. What we know about life expexctancy is that we assume we all want to live longer. But what point having a quantity of life without a quality of life to match? And who but the individual can decide in quality? Lifestyle choice is just the flipside of deathstyle choice.