Thinking about the homelessness problem in the US from a different perspective
Homes. We’ve all got one, whether it’s a proper house or an apartment building or a park bench or a numinous feeling we get when we drive through a certain neighborhood, we can all relate to the word Home.
I bought a home, against my own better judgment, in my early twenties. We, my wife and I, managed to hold on to it for longer than I think anybody thought we would, but I can confidently say that we should not have purchased it when we did. We felt the pressure to move up in status. We were convinced that buying a home was the best choice for our young family. We bought into the narrative — “The Market has never been better than it is right now! You’ll be fine, see? Just sign the next thirty years of your life away, right here on this line. Yes, that’s the way they all work, we’re definitely not taking advantage of your inexperience. What’s that? Oh, the fact that you’re covered in tattoos and have never even been inside a building this nice before, no, that’s fine, we love young couples like you!”
Many people have detailed the crash of the housing market better than I ever could. Long story short, a group of wealthy people became even more wealthy by taking advantage of people less wealthy than themselves. It went on for years, but eventually the bottom fell out. When it all came to light, a few of these men were scapegoated, the taxpayers footed the bill, and nothing actually changed; a decade or so later we’re in a not too dissimilar situation.
These are some photos that I took of an abandoned farm house near me. Times are rough for a lot of people right now, we’ve got a lot to contend with; apathy, greed, misinformation, sickness, poverty, drug abuse, mental and emotional illnesses, it almost feels like there are more things wrong than there are right. I don’t think that’s the case, but it all gets a little overwhelming at times. One of the many problems that I feel doesn’t get spoken about often enough is our homelessness epidemic.
It’s hard to find accurate numbers, but on any given night in the US there are at least four-times as many vacant homes than there are homeless individuals sleeping on the streets. Why are there so many vacant homes? Look into it, it’s fascinating how apathetic we can be. Why are there so many homeless people? Well, I used to think they were all just lazy and didn’t want to work. Then I started paying attention and realized that the majority of them are people just like myself who have fallen on hard times.
A lot of the younger homeless people, and there are so very many of them, are homeless because they got hooked on prescription painkillers — drugs they were given by a licensed medical practitioner for whatever reason. They were given those drugs because the drug companies were giving the doctors incentives for prescribing their product, that is not an opinion or a conspiracy theory, it’s a fact that has been demonstrated over and again. I have taken some of these painkillers myself and I can tell you that, though there are a small percentage of people who just don’t get anything from them, they are very powerful and tend to be very addictive; they don’t just take the pain away but are euphoric and extremely dangerous. These people who became addicted often wound up in a situation where they couldn’t find a doctor to give them any more drugs, the doctors had to cover themselves, they couldn’t be seen to be giving out drugs for no reason.
Because Heroin, the street drug, and these painkillers are remarkably similar, a lot of these patients in fact turned to heroin. It’s cheaper and often easier to acquire, but with heroin comes many more things and it usually leads to the destruction of one’s life. These kids were given a highly addictive drug by a person they were supposed to trust, they became addicted and found that instead of receiving any support they became demonized by their families and communities and the very people they trusted, and as all these terrible things coalesced they found that they just couldn’t fight it anymore and gave up. It’s not a difficult sequence of events to understand, but for some reason we like to pretend that these people are just bad people. Some people equate the Opioid Crisis to the Crack Epidemic of the 80s. They share many, many things in common,but this current crisis is worse because it has played out on a much larger scale, it was overtly supported by corporations and government regulatory bodies, and it comes at a time when fear and hate seem to be more intense than they’ve been in generations.
I’m not saying that every homeless person is an opioid addict who lived that same story, we also trivialize alcohol abuse and that plays a major role in homelessness as well, and there are so many other factors involved. I’m not even saying that every homeless person is a good person just down on their luck, I have personally interacted with some people who are absolutely to blame for their own misfortune. I am, however, saying that every homeless person you see is nothing more than a human being, and more than likely has a legitimate explanation behind their current state. I don’t know what we should do, it’s probably going to take a massive revolution in the way we view our communities and the way we carry out our business, but I know that we need to do something more than what we’re doing now, it’s just not working. We’re obsessed with making money, to the detriment of our families and communities and personal safety and wellbeing, but we continue the rat race because it’s just easier that way.
Thanks for your time and attention folks, I appreciate your consideration. I think these photos are beautiful, they evoke strong feelings, they’re haunting and poignant and even sad, but I didn’t take them just because I wanted some beautiful photos. Every time I drive by this house I think of my cousin who, though he has done some terrible things in his life, is a human being who sleeps on the street every night. I don’t know what it’s going to take to bring us all back together as a community, but I am happy that there seem to be so many who are at the very least thinking about it.
Go out and be the best version of you that you can be!