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Homeless Essay, Research Paper


Professor Sherry Cisler

English 102

Essay #2 Final Draft

December 2, 2000

Most people look at the homeless and are disgusted or frightened by them. Other people do not feel this way because they simply ignore the homeless. The majority of society has negative feelings toward homeless people because they do not know who the homeless really are and what sort of issues caused them to live on the streets. New York City has thousands of homeless people living on the streets and many people are disgusted by their presence. Homeless are considered annoying by most Americans. It?s incredibly sad that so many people sleep on the streets. In the essay, ?Helping and Hating the Homeless,? Peter Marin describes the problem of homeless people and the lack of help for this growing problem. Marin had many strong points in his article on the homeless. Marin strongly points out that society does understand the reasons for the homeless problem because most people are ignorant to the problem or are misinformed.

First of all, there are many different reasons as to why the homeless became homeless, but most people categorize all of these reasons into one, the homeless. They think it is one major group of people with the same problem; living on the streets. However, the homeless are made up of veterans, the mentally ill, single parents, physically disabled, runaway children, drug addicts and alcoholics. The majority of this list were normal people before becoming homeless. Some were members of the working class who ran into problems and ended up on the streets they had no were else to turn. The homeless problem is more complex than most people can imagine. ?The word ?homeless? tells us almost nothing? (299).

People who do not agree with the American life style sometimes end up homeless because they want to be excluded from society. Some people do surprisingly choose to be homeless. Others choose to be homeless because they can not live within a ?normal? society. For example, veterans might have to turn to the streets because they couldn?t escape the trauma and couldn?t live a normal life with all of the troubles they endure day to day. There are some homeless people ??who no longer want help, who no longer recognize the need for help, and whose experiences in our world has made them want to be left alone? (301-302). Some of these people are content with living on the streets. They do not want a change and seem to be happy in what seems to be a very unfortunate situation. Many people are misinformed about this kind of circumstance.

Next, some homeless people start out with a normal life then start living on the streets because of a traumatic experience they can not escape. The story about Alice shows this vividly. She had a job as a teacher and one day she was raped. This led to a nervous breakdown and three months in a mental institution. After returning she had no job and no belongings in her apartment. ?We must learn to accept that there may indeed be people, and not only vets, who have seen so much of our world, or seen it so clearly, that to live in it becomes impossible? (301). She eventually felt she had no where to turn except the streets. Alice was a person similar to many others in society before she was raped. This story shows how the tables can turn in life suddenly and drastically. Most people would never realize that some of the homeless people they walk by day to day is a person like Alice. Society tends to think that the homeless are without homes mostly because of themselves and not because of traumatic experiences. Many people are ignorant to the situations of homeless people and they tend to look down on some who used to be a lot like them.

Society tries to rehabilitate the ?deviant? nature of the homeless rather than give them the help and compassion they need. Most shelters are not made to improve the homeless people?s lives, but to control them. The shelters have ridiculous rules that seem to be for rehabilitating the homeless rather than giving them shelter. ?Compassion is little more than the passion for control? (304). The shelters are only temporary for the homeless and they no kind of solution for the serious problem America faces. Shelters think they appear or want people to think they appear to be helping the homeless problem. However, they seem to be helping the homeless temporarily, but not helping the homeless problem. Others need to realize that this feeble attempt is not enough to solve the problem.

Much of society does not understand the problem of homelessness, but society is responsible in some situations for creating the homeless problem. The problem of veterans on the streets is one example of society creating the homeless problem. ?We decide, as a people, to go to war, we ask our children to kill and to die, and the result, years later, is grown men homeless on the street? (300). These individuals who are traumatized by wars do not receive any help from society in order to overcome their difficulties. Instead, they make a desperate choice to live on the streets because help is scarce. Also, the mentally ill face this same kind of this situation. There are laws created to give mentally ill the rights they deserve, but then they are neglected of the facilities they need to survive. This results in mentally ill people becoming homeless. Society does not take on the responsibility of the homeless problem that they cause and many do not recognize this problem.

Lastly, many individuals pass homeless people off as less than human. They think they are lazy, dirty and worthless life forms. We don?t want them sleeping in public places. People sometimes feel threatened or confused by them when they are around. ?And our policies toward them, our spontaneous sense of disgust and horror, our wish to be rid of them?? (303). The problem is not very well understood today. Many think that that the homeless are only a nuisance in our everyday life. However, the people who think this must not realize the amount of homeless people who lived a regular life at one time. People who are not born homeless and others seem to not realize the reasons for these unfortunate circumstances.

The ignorant amount of people in society today cause this misunderstanding of the homeless problem. They do not realize the diversity of the problem, from at one time normal people to others who choose to be homeless. Society causes many of these homeless people themselves and the shelters they provide are inadequate for the problem. There is no easy solution to this worldwide problem. However, we can educate others about the complexity of the homeless problem. We should all have an obligation to help other people who are in need of help. This is not a moral obligation because you should not feel sorry for them, but a human obligation because you feel like helping them. ?We owe them, I think at least a place to exist, a way to exist? (305). Eventually, a lot more of us can walk the streets with a less negative feeling toward the homeless. Hopefully, walk the streets with less homeless suffering.

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