It's called homelessness, not houselessness
So, welcome to my very first blog, ever. At the ripe old age of 40, I have never before written a blog. To be honest, I don’t even know where the word blog originates from. That said, I have decided to blog (I feel very young and IT savvy even saying the word ‘blog’) because what I am about to write is something that warrants sharing.
I have been a youth worker for the past 16 years and for most of that time, worked with young people who have experienced homelessness. Predominantly, these young people are courageous, resilient and talented, kids who grew up with dreams of becoming firemen and ballerinas. Kids like us, kids like your kids.
Having worked in the field, I know that homelessness doesn’t just mean sleeping rough. It also means couch surfing, living in refuges or boarding houses and living in accommodation that is precarious.
Interestingly, when we consider homelessness, many people immediately think of housing, or lack thereof. That makes perfect sense of course. Having safe, secure and affordable housing would certainly go a long way toward addressing a young person’s homelessness. I would suggest that if the issue could be addressed by merely providing properties, this experience would be called houselessness. It’s not though, it’s called homelessness – and why is that? What is it that a home provides that a house doesn’t? A home is a place we can feel safe, heard, loved, supported and encouraged. It is free from racism, sexism and harassment. Do bricks and mortar provide that? I think you get where I‘m going here.
We need to continue to provide services to young people that address all aspects of homelessness, not just accommodation. We need to design programs that are innovative and sustainable. We need to provide programs that encourage flexibility rather than trying to pigeonhole young people into boxes. We need to think creatively and outside of those aforementioned boxes.
Anyway, thanks for reading my blog (the word is sitting very comfortably with me now). I encourage you to keep thinking about youth homelessness, keep talking to your family and friends about it, bring in up at dinner parties and social functions and keep thinking creatively about ways we can continue to address this community issue.
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