What Homelessness Is
How do we define homelessness beyond the standard policies and start helping sick people get better?
Here is what my dinner companion said to me today.
“You lose your home because you are sick. For months you are shunted from one spare room to another with no hope of recovery, because none of these spare rooms include accommodations that allow you to stabilize your strange, largely invisible, and widely misunderstood illness.
“You’re in a lot of pain. Your symptoms are disruptive. Sometimes you feel like your body could die; you never stop feeling like it’s falling apart.
“You have no way to generate income. You are too sick.
“You do not know when the kindness of friends and strangers will run dry. You sense already that the resilience of those who know you — those you ask for help — is wearing thin.
“If you do not have a home that is yours, that can be suitably adapted to the limitations and requirements of your illness… and your illness worsens irreparably as a result… Are you homeless?
“If you have never spent a single night out on the street… if you have always had a roof to shelter under, by grace or luck… and if you constantly fear it, because you know how easily it could happen, and how fast…
“Are you homeless?
“Because this does not sound to me like a person who has a home.”
I had to admit, he had a point.