I learned the term “houselessness” when I was part of Occupy San Diego, as a friend told me that people on the street may have a home, but they don’t have a house. I’ve been using it ever since. Anyways, here’s what I think about how we should approach the issue of houselessness.
Housing as a Human Right
I support housing-first policies and oppose criminalizing the houseless for not having a place to sleep. Housing First policies providing stable housing for chronically houseless people have had quite a good track record when combined with social services and mental health services, as implemented in Utah, New York City, and more recently in Yolo County.
Also, for those wondering how we pay for this housing – the cost of putting people in houses is significantly lower than having people with mental illness, drug addiction, health problems, and hunger out on the street. In NYC, a researcher found that the city was spending $40,000/year on each houseless person with mental illness. It’s cheaper to provide permanent housing for the chronically houseless and it’s just the humane thing to do in my opinion.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly we must address the root causes of houselessness, not just the symptoms.
Let’s imagine a world where everyone has secure shelter, and go out there and create it.