Is homelessness always bad? Or unwanted?

@Awinds (2475)
United States
August 19, 2011 9:08pm CST
By strict definition, homelessness is when a person lacks a permanent, stable place of shelter. The street or (for the lucky ones) something non-traditional like a car might be a "shelter." When we think of the homeless we may think of a man who lost everything because of a drug addiction. Or maybe someone who was the victim of foreclosure and now lives in a car comes to mind. In such cases homelessness is bad. It signals poverty and a greatly increased risk in all areas of life. The worst part is, once one is homeless it is hard to reverse the situation. But what about people who are voluntarily homeless? I think of retired people who live full time in a traveling RV. There are also people who live on a bike with a tent for "adventure." And of course there are the people who lead lives of stealth in camper vans. They are rare but they are out there. Society is in general hostile to these kinds of people. In the UK, living in a car is illegal (at least according to the news I saw today) and in America, there is general violence and police actions against the homeless. Living in an RV or car also carries with it negative connotations. So what do you think? Is homelessness always bad? If able, should people follow the social norms of owning a permanent house or renting an apartment? Should those that choose to be unconventional in regards to housing be free to do so or is the interference from civilians, police and organizations justified?
3 people like this
7 responses
@bostonphil (4398)
• United States
20 Aug 11
Interesting discussion that you started. I guess homelessness is bad when a person does not want to be homeless but is due to circumstances beyond his or her control. He or she can not afford to rent housing. But you presented another situation. For instance what about persons who choose to spend a lot of their time traveling and their transportation becomes a home. Those persons may have chosen not to stay in one location. They do not have a permanent structure in one spot which they call home. Those persons are not really homeless. They have some money to travel and if they wanted to, they could probably afford to rent a place to live year round. I know some persons who live in their RV's. They travel all over the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central and Latin America. They have good lives and are having a wonderful time. They are not poor and can afford whatever they need or want. I do not think that they see themselves as homeless nor do I think society would see them as homeless. I do not know if law enforcement or society would be hostile to them because they tend to have money. Owning and running a RV costs. It is not cheap. And those persons have their own subculture. Adventurous persons on a bike are probably young. They might run into difficulty depending on their appearance, personality and demeanor. Some might have money while others not so. How they are viewed by law enforcement and society is going to depend on a lot of factors such as how much money they do have, where they go and how they present themselves. A lot of how a person is viewed and treated is up to how the individual presents himself / herself.
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
20 Aug 11
I have surfed a few full time RVing sites and the occasional "look out for the police in City X because" with accompanying experience story. It's rare but officers will at times set their eyes on a lingering RV. However I do agree that the way a person presents themselves will determine if the local permanent home owners and comfortable or not. Someone who wonders around but goes out of their way to avoid the locals will probably be seen as suspicious - especially by parents of young kids. On the other hand someone who goes to the local diner and is quite open with his or her conversation will probably be perceived as fine.
• United States
20 Aug 11
I did not realize that RV owners might have any problem with law enforcement. RV's are expensive and it costs money to maintain one. That means the owners are not poor -- they have some money. And sine they are usually tourists (meaning money for the community), I would have expected that they would be treated with respect. However, I guess that criminals could also be using RV's to engage in criminal activity. There could also be some criminals out there who are choosing to be homeless to avoid scrutiny. I have heard that some patronize the homeless shelters.
• United States
20 Aug 11
Last year, I met a young couple on the bus. They appeared to be homeless. In fact, they were traveling around the United States staying at Salvation Army's as a homeless couple. i thought that that was a real abuse of the Salvation Army and their services. Furthermore, this couple did this in Europe. They traveled around Europe as a homeless couple begging for money. I overheard them talking about how generous Europeans were when compared to Americans.
@suspenseful (40316)
• Canada
20 Aug 11
There is a big difference between living in your car and living in a trailer or camper like the Tinkers and Gypsies do and also some retired folk or people who travel around to where the work is. My sister-in-law, the one who travels a lot, lived in a trailer with her husband and later children because he was working in heavy construction and had to go where the work was. I also learned that with some retired people they live on cruise ships. I would think that is exciting because I love the sea, but try to convince some of my friends to come along would be impossible. I think that if you make the trailer, camper, tent, etc. to be like a home, then it would be all right, but if you just slap things together as what happens when you live in a car, not that good. I do think that if the police see that the camper has the pans hang up, and blankets, food items, clothes and see bookcase built in plus a stove and a ice box, they know that the people inside are not vagrants and not up to no good.
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
20 Aug 11
That is true. Am Rv style trailer is build to be an accommodation, while cars are just designed for transport. It does make sense why one set up might be more accepted than the other.
1 person likes this
@suspenseful (40316)
• Canada
21 Aug 11
That's right. Here in Canada we have trailer parks that accommodate RVs and trailers and there they can fill up with water get exra supple, etc.and if the want can rent a spot to say and some have even made their trailers permanent. With a car, it is much different. I mean where can you put the toilet and the washbasin and if one if traveling along the highway and has to go. At least in the trailer, you can pull over to the side.
@celticeagle (118231)
• Boise, Idaho
20 Aug 11
Homelessness can learn to alot of very negative things. Being less apt to be clean they get body mites and even lice. SOme have severe psychotic problems that make it next to impossible for them to live normal lives. Paranoia and schizophrenia is just two of several things that could be going on. Then there are those that want to wander. It would be such fun to get out on the open road and see the country. I think these people should have the right to do so as long as it doesn't cause problems elsewhere.
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
20 Aug 11
Forced homelessness is an ugly aspect of life. As you say, its a sure fire way to say good bye to one's health and security. Also once trapped there, its hard (and impossible for some) to get out.
1 person likes this
@celticeagle (118231)
• Boise, Idaho
20 Aug 11
That is so true. Once in it is very hard to get out.
@Lore2009 (7389)
• United States
20 Aug 11
My dream is to live in a RV one day and travel the nation and if possible, the world. In my opinion, no it's not bad. I read of a man, who chooses to be homeless because he doesn't want to be bound to material things. He's something like a Monk in the mountains minus the religion part. I don't know if the interference is justified because if the man is living on someone's "private" or "tax paid" property then, I guess other's are free to say what they want but at the same time, I think of the nomads in other countries who have lived that way for many years but once borders were made, they had to make new arrangements to their lifestyle due to laws.
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
20 Aug 11
I've been thinking about being an RV nomad myself. The thought of no mortgage or rent is very appealing. You bring up a good point: there are people out there who go against the norms of housing for a higher reason. If they are pursuing a goal like that and if they are not hurting anyone, there really is no reason to harass them.
• United States
20 Aug 11
Homeless is always unfortunate. I've come across a few people who I never thought were homeless. They were sleeping in a different friend's apartment every week. It is not bad per se. There are people who do things like travel the world or go backpacking. Those who have been down on their luck and have no support system or no one to be with have had an unfortunate turn of events happen to them. Why or how this turned out is could be none of our business or a cause to action.
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
20 Aug 11
I do think that persecuting those who can't help is wrong. They are just trying to survive and there is no need for the more fortunate it to make it even more difficult.
@Rick1950 (1565)
• Lima, Peru
20 Aug 11
Homelessness is a consequence of poor housing policy in a country. I think if people have at least the possibility to live in a RV, then authority should let them in peace and the State must build houses for these people. It's better to sleep in a RV that on the street. Homelessness ia a world problem and affect more the poor countries. This is really a social problem and it need deep reforms. Perhaps living in a RV isn't accepted because you need water and sewer facilities. :)
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
20 Aug 11
That is true - some countries have it much worse than others. The reasons for harassing people who live in RV's is beyond me - especially if they have no other choice.
• Philippines
20 Aug 11
I guess it's okay if you can rent an apartment on another place at once but if you're homeless because you're broke then you better do something about it. Being homeless commonly is bad but, from your definition, I guess business men who fly from town to town are considered homeless despite having the money to rent an apartment to live in. There are also NBA players who jump from team to team, that means jumping from one city to another within the whole season. I guess you can also consider them homeless.
@Awinds (2475)
• United States
20 Aug 11
The problem is though that those NBA and business men probably own houses - and nice ones at that considering their income. They still own a permanent home - they may not just be present all the time. What do you think about the people who are purely nomadic with no permanent home base anywhere?