We must change the narrative.
The vision must be to end homelessness altogether. Charities and governments which are trying to tackle the growing problem of global homelessness have become stuck in a mindset which is simply about managing the problem.
I cannot understand how we have allowed homelessness to become a common daily factor in our lives. In every major city, we pass homeless people in the streets. Unbelievably, it has become the norm, yet homelessness just shouldn’t exist.
We are kind people. We are happy to give money for food and blankets which helps save lives and gives immediate comfort but the bigger and more difficult challenge is to work out how we end homelessness altogether.
We do live in a very affluent age. We are incredibly smart as a human race – just look at the incredible developments in technology. Why can’t we apply our considerable and collective brain power towards making the world a better place.
So where do we begin?
We can stop people ending up on the streets in the first place. Every city government should invest in developing practical “safety nets” so that if people are falling close to the edge they can find the necessary practical support to stop them falling out of society.
We need to change the economic system which is making the rich richer and creating a chasm between the haves and the have-nots.
We must look at our tax system and create an efficient and fair way in which the poorest of the poor are protected from the harshness of market economics.
We need to look at ourselves as individuals. Society appears to be becoming more and more greedy, selfish and narcissistic. We must examine the whole value basis of how we live and consequently how our economic system operates. Try words like: community, fairness, neighbourliness, love, and respect to create a system where everyone can share in the society we create.
Am I being naïve? Possibly. But it is right to have a vision, isn’t it? No-one I have ever spoken to has ever thought that homelessness was a good idea. Why do we have it then? Surely, it isn’t so naïve to think that we could create a world where homelessness doesn’t exist. No-one could disagree. So let’s do it then.
It is time for a major debate about how to end homelessness rather than what do we do about homeless people. Once that debate is finished we need to emerge with clear practical actions which everyone in society can sign up to and feel empowered to act on.