What determines the face of homelessness? Can you spot homelessness in someone’s eyes?
Before beginning my internship at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, I did not recognize the face of homelessness. Society blinded me with a stereotype of the homeless population. I am guilty of not acknowledging the homeless population; and I, like many others, succumbed to the belief that homelessness occurred through individual means, not extreme circumstances.
Throughout my time at the Coalition, I met an array of people. These people, young and old, have lived without a home to call their own for either weeks or years. These interactions humbled me, and as a future social worker, humility is a gift. Society teaches us that homelessness occurs because of laziness; it teaches us that homeless people are at fault for their situation; that homeless people are bums, addicts, and thugs terrorizing our neighborhoods. These stereotypes are keeping us from advocating for our fellow man because we become afraid of them. Society neglects to inform us that the homeless population is a strong-willed one. Homelessness can happen to any of us. We’re just lucky that it hasn’t yet.
Homelessness is swept under the rug. This population is made invisible to the rest of us, so we don’t have to worry. Invisibility, however, does not prevent homelessness from becoming your family’s state of being. It could be your brother, your sister, your daughter, or your son. There is only so much a single person can do to prevent homelessness from occurring to their family. Yet you can still make your voice heard.
Currently the Coalition is working on House Bill 135, an Act Providing Housing and Support Services for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth. This bill pursues to reduce youth homelessness by providing funding to housing and support services for unaccompanied youth. Hundreds of youth across
Massachusetts are homeless, yet there are not enough beds for all of them. This bill, if passed, will require agencies to provide services to unaccompanied homeless youth to ensure that they have a place to sleep at night. In order to get this bill passed, we need your support.
Stand up and voice your opinion. Let people know that youth homelessness exists. Make people uncomfortable. Look for inspiration in the eyes of the homeless. This silenced population needs to be heard. Help us break the stereotype of homelessness so we can secure the resources that this population needs. Support House Bill 135.
By: Bianca Carreiro