I asked a question on We Are Visible about whether or not folks hide the fact that they are homeless or have ever been homeless. As expected, everyone’s answer varied according to their situation but I have to ask, why? Why hide something that is becoming a growing epidemic? Why hide the fact that there wasn’t a safety net in place when so many are slipping through the cracks of a social services program or programs that policy makers are unraveling quickly?
Yes, there is the attitude among many that homeless folks must be lazy, have addiction problems or mental health issues but you know what? If you let those kinds of attitudes influence you against standing up for yourself or speaking up for compassion, then you are feeding into a system of negativity. I see this as no different from those who say that you shouldn’t tell anyone that you were abused as a child or that you should keep it a secret that you were raped.
That being said, I still think that folks should work at making their lives worth living. Taking handouts to perpetuate complacency contributes nothing to getting out of homelessness. This is not the same as accepting help when you’ve done everything you can to help yourself but still can’t get out of homelessness due to revolving door policies that don’t work or make things worse.
I also understand that there may be times that you might want to use discretion about revealing your circumstances. A lot of employers have issues with hiring homeless people even though a job would certainly help towards ending homelessness. To my way of thinking, it’s a person’s skills and experience that determine whether or not I hire them; not their living situation.
I am a homeless single mother and this is what I write about. I am not ashamed of my situation, I’m ashamed of others who did nothing to stop it. It is my goal to educate others about the growing reality of homelessness in this country. I encourage those of us “in the closet” to come forward and let people know what’s going on in your world.
The more people know, the less they have to fear….right?