We live in individualistic times, “if there’s a will there’s a way.” In this mindset, if you’re homeless it’s because you’re not trying hard enough.
None of us start with a blank slate. We inherit from our ancestors opportunities or lack of opportunities, intergenerational traumas and resilience, wealth or poverty.
We have what’s put on us by societal categorizations like gender, race, class, and ability, that strongly influence whether we are treated as fully human or as something else.
Throw in a life of experiences, education, geographic location and for some much easier times than others – some people mostly having stability and support, others ripped away from home, family, culture.
I was homeless for years and now have a degree, career, and home. I had to fight for this and it could disappear in a instant because if anything happens I have no family, savings, or strength to do it over again.
I was able to do it because I was treated as deserving a chance because I was white, smart, and young. Others saw me as queer, an addict, a foster kid, and a dropout and made my life incredibly difficult.
I could have worked ten times harder and still have not made it because so many factors were beyond my control.
It’s time to develop empathy, understanding that homelessness is a symptom of our societal brokenness and the only way to fix it is to change systems and stop blaming people for not having privilege and opportunity.