Saturday, February 4, 2017

On the risks of homelessnes and the risks of being housed, and "society's" responsibility on the matter.

Repost of something I wrote on Medium. You can read the comment I am replying to here, but this is fairly generic and could've been a reply to more or less anyone questioning other peoples' choices regarding homelessness.


You seem to be operating under the premise that being homeless is always risking “greater insecurity” and “suffering the indignities and physical risk associated with homelessness”. You leave out the risks of being housed. While the risks of being housed vary from person to person, they can potentially include being beaten, being raped, being physically tormented in other ways, being poisoned, being locked in a basement, being chained or handcuffed, and being killed— often in private, where there are no witnesses (although for references, I chose a number of examples that actually were published in the news, although such attention is really the exception rather than the rule).(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7)(8)(9)(10)(11)(12)(13)(14)(15)(16)(17)(18)(19)(20)(21)(22)(23)(24) A lot of people feel safer in a public area like a tent city where there are others around to intervene if things get out of hand, or in a place cheap enough that they can afford it on their own like a self-storage that they don’t have to share with anyone potentially violent, or else just finding hiding spots and being able to sleep in different places/run away more easily.

Yes, being homeless is dangerous too, but all risk is relative, and sorting out the risks is for each person to decide for themselves. If a person feels physically safer or happier or even just financially more secure being homeless than not being homeless, who are you to tell them whether or not that choice is in their best interest, in the short run or the long run?

I don’t know about homeless students specifically, but an estimated 44% of homeless people actually do work.(25) Personally, I suspect that number is a vast underestimate because a) those who are not certain that their work is legal or are sure it isn’t (consider sub-minimum-wage jobs, some that pay only in food, self-employment without the appropriate licenses, unreported bartering, etc.) are likely to report as unemployed, and b) the employed homeless are likely to be better at hiding and thus less likely to be interviewed to begin with.

So, many of the homeless students likely do some sort of work, and even if they don’t, it’s not as if re-prioritizing would be any guarantee of being able to afford a home. If they feel their long-term chances are better with a college degree, they might be right.

Society’s responsibilities? At the very minimum, “society”, for some definition of “society”, is responsible for normalizing violence against the homeless by criminalizing homelessness.(26) In Brazil and some other countries it’s common to just kill homeless people.(27)(28)(29) Violence against the homeless at the hands of police and other authorities leads to even more violence as it causes people in domestic violence and other dangerous situations to be less likely to leave (for fear of what the police and others will do to them if they do) and also causes existing homeless people to be far less likely to report violence committed against them because of lack of trust in police (many homeless will not report even rape, for example). And thus, thanks in part to “society”, violence is rampant and normalized. You yourself suggest “medical intervention” which is vague, but immediately calls to mind forced institutionalization and forced drugging. 

“Failure” to self identify? More like success at keeping a secret that could well endanger a person if entrusted to the wrong individuals.

  1. Hanford Sentinel staff. “Corcoran man allegedly beat, assaulted live-in girlfriend.” Hanford Sentinel, January 16, 2017. (accsesed February 4, 2017).
  2. Marsh, Julia, Keldy Ortiz, and Rebecca Rosenberg. “Elderly tenant claims super attacked her so she’d move out.” New York Post, September 27, 2016. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  3. Clarridge, Christine. “Homeless woman says rape was price of a night’s shelter.” The Seattle Times, April 29, 2009. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  4. Lynott, Laura. “‘My life is a living hell’, says homeless rape victim Aisling left with nowhere to turn.”, November 25, 2016. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  5. Demarest, Erica. “Landlord Rapes Tenant While Collecting Rent, Prosecutors Say.” DNAinfo, August 26, 2015. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  6. Holley, Peter. “Man accused of waterboarding girlfriend to determine whether she was being unfaithful.” The Washington Post, March 2, 2016. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  7. Dunya News. “Influential landlords torture tenant in Muridke.” Dunya News, January 9, 2017. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  8. Towner, Myriah. “Psychology professor facing life in prison for TORTURING his wife by strangling her and bending her fingers back.” Daily Mail, November 24, 2016. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  9. Asad, Malik. “Police name judge, spouse as suspects in child maid’s abuse case.” Dawn, January 25, 2017. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  10. Nawaiwaqt Group of Newspapers. “Police rescues 29 forced laborers from private jail in Badin.” The Nation, December 31, 2016. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  11. CBS Television. “Burn Victim Creates Powerful Make-Up Tutorial to Call for an End to Acid Attacks.” Inside Edition, September 3, 2015. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  12. MacGraw, Ali et al. Split Estate. Online streaming. Directed by Debra Anderson. Santa Fe: Red Rock Pictures, 2009.
  13. Kirk, Tristan. “Wife poisoned husband’s Christmas Day Lambrini with antifreeze then wrote fake ‘suicide’ note.” Mirror, November 24, 2015. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  14. Rood, Lee. “Beaten and locked up: Another abuse case raises questions about Iowa’s response.” The Des Moines Register, January 21, 2017. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  15. Angel920. “Control, Control, Control.”, April 28, 2007. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  16. Pennsylvania College of Technology. “Roundtable to Focus on ‘Civil Discourse’ in Political Conversation.” PCToday, October 16, 2008. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  17. Hoye, Sarah. “Landlord finds mentally disabled people locked in basement; 3 arrested.” CNN, October 17, 2011. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  18. BBC. “Cellar slave girl: Salford couple must pay victim £100,000.” BBC, October 15, 2014. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  19. Smith, Devin. “Beastly Husband — ‘Psycho’ Chained Me Up With Leopards: Wife.” New York Post, May 31, 2005. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  20. Briggs, Zack. “Domestic violence victims break their silence to raise awareness.” News 4 Tucson, 2016. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  21. Saavedra, Tony, and John Asbury. “Suspect in sex worker killings has violent record.” The Orange County Register, April 15, 2014. (accessed February 4, 2017)
  22. Mills, Chellie. “Logan County investigates child handcuffed at home.” NewsChannel 4, July 8, 2013. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  23. Martindale, Mike. “Prosecutor, lawyer agree: Man killed wife with bat.” The Detroit News, February 3, 2017. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  24. Chinese, Vera, Rocco Parascandola, and Barry Paddock. “Landlord-tenant dispute gets ugly as man is killed after dispute over only $100 in rent.” (accessed February 4, 2017).
  25. Burt, Martha et al. “Homelessness: Programs and the People They Serve.” National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients, December 1999. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  26. Spurr, Lauren. “Criminalization of homelessness on the rise in U.S. cities.” MSNBC, July 18, 2014. (accessed February 4, 2017).
  27. Sandy, Matt. “In Brazilian city, homeless face ‘extermination.’” Al Jazeera, October 25, 2014. (accessed January 7, 2017).
  28. Kaplan, Michael. “Road To Rio: Police Sweep Away ‘Street Children’ Ahead Of Brazil Olympics.” International Business Times, April 18, 2016. (accessed January 7, 2017).
  29. Human Rights Watch. “BOGOTÁ.” Human Rights Watch. (accessed January 7, 2017).

No comments:

Post a Comment