Keeping people out of homelessness — and thereby preventing the ailments that only going unhoused can cause — is far preferable to asking people to pull themselves out of it. Once people become homeless, the transition back to housing, and sometimes work and society in general, is almost impossibly difficult. Here's why it would be so hard if it happened to you.
1) If your ID is lost and stolen, good luck replacing it, especially since 9/11.
3) Until that first paycheck, how will you afford to get to work? Both gas and public transportation cost money.
4) Your job skills might no longer be relevant in today's economy.
5) Once you are looking for a place to live, your landlord will probably question your lack of recent rental history.
6) It's hard enough to save enough money for first and last month's rent and a security deposit. You might be charged a double security deposit if your landlord is even willing to rent to someone who was previously homeless.
7) Good luck finding affordable housing at all.
8) If you are one of the 60 percent of the homeless who are disabled, it is a very long process to receive federal benefits and you need to plan the time to be denied and then appeal. If you work at all during that time period, you will be denied.
9) Do you even know if you are disabled? Severe head injuries (pdf) may affect your memory, concentration, organization, speech and temper. Lack of insight is a hallmark symptom (pdf) for many psychotic disorders.
10) After a period of homelessness, you might have a criminal record from "status crimes." These are crimes that arise from having to do things in public that housed people have the good fortune to do inside, such as sleeping, sitting, eating and peeing.
11) You might get ill and not have access to healthcare.
12) If you have an addiction (pdf), it might spiral out of control.
13) If you have any history of trauma, you might find that being homeless worsens your PTSD (pdf).
14) Good luck getting help from former friends, acquaintances or neighbors. Most people are as afraid of homelessness as they are of a contagious disease.
15) Once you are ill, you might die. Homeless people are four times more likely to die prematurely (pdf) than housed individuals.
16) You might be a child.
17) You might be unable to work or on a fixed income due to your advanced age.
18) Shelter staff, social service providers, prospective employers and landlords might assume you are a drug-addicted mentally ill criminal.
(It's so easy to assume the person on the sidewalk is there cause of their own doing, but we're all one house fire/bad decision/ accident/ ailment away from being on the street. Don't look down on someone because of their situation. It could be you. God forbid, but it could be you.)