How we have conversations about the homeless is a problem.

Yesterday evening I heard parts of interview on NPR where the guest being interview made some disturbing comments about people so afflicted with poverty that they don’t have a place to live or any kind of basic, reliable shelter – those who are homeless. 

The person being interview discussed the homeless problem as having two main issues/conversations: those who want to help the homeless and those who are annoyed at seeing homeless people. 

What the what. 

Additionally, she made the statement that based on her interactions with those who are homeless that “lots of people enjoy being homeless.” 

What the what. 

Clearly, the largest and most important conversation related to those who are homeless is the systems, structures, and prejudices that cause homelessness. It’s about the veterans, queer teens, and others who are abandoned by those who are charged with responsibility. It’s about jobs that don’t pay enough and insurance companies that charge too much to live and uncontrollable crisis. 

Only recognizing conversations about reactions (helpful and unhelpful) to homelessness does nothing to address causality. 

Moreover, perhaps a tiny percent do “enjoy” being “homeless.” But such a statement devoid of context and specifics and to a general audience, is dangerous, dangerous and is misguided. Presumably, maybe, suggesting the interviewee’s bias.

And those who do “enjoy” being “homeless” might have some kind of serious mental illness, which would make such statements irresponsible. Or in rare cases if a person really does just enjoy living free of so-called modern life, labeling them “homeless” is equally irresponsible and inappropriate given the many connotations of “homeless.”