A question often asked by the general public when seeing an unhoused civilian is, “why don’t they go live with their family?” Truth be told, it is never that easy for the vast majority of the homeless population. The following article goes into detail as to why family sometimes is not an option.
For an unhoused individual, simply reaching out to family is easier said than done. There are many reasons as to why aid from family isn’t an option. About 20,000 youth age out of the foster care system each year in the U.S., according to AdoptUsKids.org. Therefore, the adults that the general public may be seeing could possibly be someone who never had the chance at a family.
Let us shed light on those who may have been abused by their family. National estimates show that roughly 80% of unhoused mothers with children have previously experienced domestic violence. Moreover, about 230,000 unhoused children have been exposed to both traumatic and long-term effects of domestic violence. Perhaps some individuals do have family they could contact but will absolutely not due to the abuse they have endured. Would you turn to an abuser for help? The answer is most likely no.
However, there are those who do have family but maybe do not have the option to reach out to them. This could be because the family has “disowned” the given individual. This is often the case with members of the LGBTQ+ community and drug abusers. Instead of aiding the individual, some families opt just to cut ties with them, feeding them to the wolves of society.
People counted in the single adult homeless population (about 2.3-3.5 million annually) are part of families. These individuals may be in touch with their families. There are some who are fortunate enough to be able to crash on the occasional couch of either friends or family members. However, this within itself is actually a different form of homelessness. The well-known term “couch surfing” depicts the lifestyle of someone who stays temporarily in a series of other people’s homes, typically accompanied by a makeshift sleeping arrangement. These types of people oftentimes don’t feel like they are home, hence leaving, either of guilt or being kicked out.
These are all unique aspects of many different unhoused individuals’ lives. They are important to take into consideration before jumping to the conclusion that they have a family to help them. For some their family may have simply passed away. You never know a person’s story.