Let’s start by examining the word and its meaning. Firstly, we break it apart. It has three parts; “home”, “-less” and “-ness”
1 HOME - A place of residence or refuge. It is usually a place in which an individual or a family can rest and be able to store personal property.
2 -LESS – Lacking something. As a suffix, usually the opposite –ful. It tells us that the prefix has become “without” any of its normal attributes.
3 -NESS - Appended to adjectives to form nouns meaning "the state of (the adjective)", "the quality of (the adjective)", or "the measure of (the adjective)".
So, we’ve taken a noun, made it an adjective, and then made it a noun again. Who doesn’t want to be a Noun, eh?
In the case of the word Homelessness, the first example of the use of the –ness suffix applies, “the state of”. It is a state: not a permanent thought, idea or function, but a transitional. If the –ness suffix is removed, then adjective have we! We’ve all heard the term, adjective poverty haven’t we? (he he! It’s actually abject, with a “B”… just a little of how my brain works.) Homeless is an adjective which therefore means “without a place of residence or refuge”. So homelessness, a noun, becomes: “a transitional state, being without a place of residence or refuge”.
So we should understand that the word itself has a transitional nature about it. It is not the norm, nor is it the want of any individual (except those truly suicidal) to “be” homeless. This fact said, it isn’t a right to be “homed” or housed, but rather an individual’s desired state (forget the suicidal).
Here in Canada we have developed over time many beneficial social programs that the largess of our society has deemed to be rights. Things such as medical care, public safety, education and the like have become “rights” we have perceived. However only public safety is a right 1. Education, medical care, as well as other things we take for granted; like roads, pretty sunsets, clean water and a McHappy meal once in a while just to get the latest toy… Are all simply PRIVILEGE! Like the old joke says, “Spandex is NOT a right it is a privilege”!
So it is with having a home.
Home ownership, be it via a deed, or a rental agreement, or a handshake or barter is NOT guaranteed. It, like many of the things we as modern humans perceive that we need, must be earned.
As I was growing up, I, like many of you who read this now, was fortunate enough to always have a roof over my head. There was a time, when this roof was no larger than 8 foot by 7 foot and nothing more than a sheet of plywood covered with tin (a tiny truck-box camper), but a roof it was. I did earn enough at some kind of job which let me afford this roof. I knew that enduring this meagre roof and bed allowed me to save up; to better myself, which led to better opportunities. As my prospects have improved, so has my “roof” (I’ve treated myself as I’ve progressed! A little self-indulgent, but my family and I are worth it!) I have seldom taken any of this for granted, as it was not too long ago that I was under that 8’ by 7’. I do know for certain that I could have never accomplished any of what I have without the aid of my wife. Without her support I would not have struggled as hard and would not be where I am. That being said, being without a “roof” is a thought that is incomprehensible. If there is a time when I might become jobless, I would get up off ass and find a new one! Priorities are fairly straight forward; Shelter, Food and Clothes. These are the basics. Once you have all these, then and ONLY then can you deviate and add other things. In pre-modern times, before currencies, humans would do this almost instinctively. They’d build a lean-to, gather berries and leaves, hunt for food, create clothing to protect their flabby delicate hides and eventually trade with those who were better at things than they were. “I’ll give you three fine grass cloaks for two fish” and so forth. Now, with the age of “Free stuff ‘cause I’m poor”, instinct has been removed. Other than the “pop-can” hunter-gatherer, a small, albeit seemingly larger, population where I live, are not heeding their instinctive inner warnings as before. Preferring to wander the street, find a corner and sit with a hat between their legs.
This, to me can mean only one thing. If they are sitting begging, then they already have their “Shelter” priority solved. So they either must be working on the “Food” or the “clothing” one now.
Money does not supply shelter. Be it a lean-to, tent, room, apartment, Condo or Palatial 17 bedroom Georgian manor house, Money is not the means to these. Determination or family support allows us to get these. If an individual has either of these attributes, then shelter is easy. If someone has not the will to change their surroundings, preferring to live in a cardboard box for months, then it is not up to me to give him a room.
The main problem that the Homeless population has is that their Priorities are not the same. If we (society) continue to step in and do the “prioritising” for them, then their priorities (individually instinctive) will change. Example: If someone gives you all the food you need, whenever you need it, you will remove “food” as one of your priorities, likely to be replaced by some other perceived need.
“Homes for the Homeless” has become a rallying cry to many who have stopped saving whales, stray puppies and themselves via Jesus. I put it to all of them who ever have said this with any seriousness of thought. Take any one individual “Homeless” person from the street to yours. Just one. Give them a “home” as described above: A place of residence or refuge. Be it a place on your living room floor, or a lean-to or tent space in the back yard. Allow that individual to store their belongings with you. Treat them with as much respect that you would expect they should show for your gift to them. Then after a week, ask them if they have managed to think of how to better themselves. If you can, offer advice and emotional support to them. If they cannot gather enough to barter for food, then feed them. When they tell you that their clothes are too shabby, clothe them. When they tell you they are dirty, wash them. If you feel this is not enough, then adopt them. Make them part of your true family. Give them your car. Give them a house, your house. Marry your daughter to them. Take them on a trip with you to the Bahamas.
Am I starting to sound absurd? The same thing should be said for charity. If we as a society are all prepared to provide homes for everybody, make it a god-given right… then we should be prepared to provide everything necessary for survival. Why not a trip to their hometowns first? Why not find their families first? Why not buy me a new house? I need a six-pack, too. OH! I almost forgot, Mexico would be nice… for a week…
It is all absurd.
1 “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.” – from the charter of rights and freedoms http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/charter/#juridiques