Is homelessness a lifestyle choice? If it is, what leads a person to make such a decision? A common assumption about people who are homeless is they are in this position because of individual character flaws, such as laziness.
A life of homelessness is a guarantee of increased suffering. Things we take for granted throughout the day are not so easily resolved when you are unhoused – things like access to restrooms and safety to sleep peacefully through the night. Without basic and reliable access to be able to relieve oneself, suffering is inevitable.
Even when it appears a person is willfully experiencing homelessness, traumatic events can ultimately lead them to conclude that they are better off unhoused as compared to whatever the alternative may be. Many survivors of domestic violence suffer from feelings of worthlessness and low confidence, believing that escaping their situation is impossible. Sometimes, when we agree to something, it is not an agreement, but a white flag.
The narrative that homelessness is a choice is harmful to people who experience and suffer through homelessness every day. To reduce the root of the problem to laziness diminishes the true causes of homelessness, absolving the systems and people who would prefer to do nothing to quell the issue.
Every story is different and when we attempt to simplify and reduce the problem, we lose sight of it. When women come to us at Sarah’s Circle, we aspire to serve them from a perspective of compassion and knowledge versus assumptions and judgements.
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