I’m fascinated by the homeless and by ‘homelessness’ in general.
Why do people end up in a state with no home? How do they get there? Why do they stay in it? Isn’t it entirely possible that they can get out of it with a bit of effort? Why do some of them seem resistant to outside help?
I saw a lot of homeless individuals in Melbourne when I was studying there and while I did give some loose change to a few I was quickly told not to. The rational was that they were likely to spend it on drugs and alcohol anyway and we were doing them a great disservice by making them dependent on others for cash instead of making any effort to help themselves.
Judging by this article from The Economist seems like the best way to get people out of their homelessness is by giving them money afterall.
Broadway tried a brave and novel approach: giving each homeless person hundreds of pounds to be spent as they wished. According to a new report on the project by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, a think-tank, it worked—a success that might offer broader lessons for public-service reform and efficiency.
And what were some of the things they bought with the money?
One asked for a new pair of trainers and a television; another for a caravan on a travellers’ site in Suffolk, which was duly bought for him. Of the 13 people who engaged with the scheme, 11 have moved off the streets. The outlay averaged £794 ($1,277) per person (on top of the project’s staff costs). None wanted their money spent on drink, drugs or bets. Several said they co-operated because they were offered control over their lives rather than being “bullied” into hostels. Howard Sinclair of Broadway explains: “We just said, ‘It’s your life and up to you to do what you want with it, but we are here to help if you want.’”
This may be just a small study but it’s definitely encouraging. Guess they just want to be treated with dignity like the rest of us.