Intersectionality of Homelessness
Written by Allison Clark.
Recently I read a memoir titled, “Just Another Bullshit Night in Suck City” by Nick Flynn. This novel chronicles the dynamic relationship between a drifter father and his estranged son as the father drifts in and out of homelessness.
This made me think about the intersectionality of homelessness and issues of social injustice. By that I mean, issues of social justice could potentially cause homelessness, and people experiencing homeless are potentially more vulnerable to areas of social injustice.
For instance, a person leaving prison may encounter difficulty finding a home (housing discrimination), gaining lawful employment (employment discrimination), or paying mandatory court fees. Another individual might have lost their job during the recession and struggled to pay their mortgage and stay afloat. After a bankruptcy claim and an end in unemployment benefits (financial discrimination), finding and paying for housing is difficult, even more so for marginalized populations. These factors leave this population closer to experiencing social injustices that increase likelihood to experience homelessness.
On the other hand, people experiencing homelessness are more vulnerable to an area of social injustice such as human trafficking. With limited options for financial independence, people experiencing homelessness are targeted by traffickers and taken advantage of. There are a high number of people experiencing homelessness who also deal with mental issues; issues that are often ‘put on a back burner’. As the book explains, years of living outside, or on the street, change a person physically, mentally, and emotionally. As time goes on, reintegrating into mainstream living is increasingly more difficult. If an individual does transition back into housing, explaining long periods of unemployment is difficult when trying to find a new job to maintain stability.
This book shows that homelessness affects people from all backgrounds, even those with family ties and networks of support. Too often people living with homelessness are marginalized creating social stigmas and invisible barriers of injustice. While funding exists, it is limited and does not cover the number of people applying for assistance. If you can, please donate some time, money, clothing, or food to a shelter.
What are some other intersections between people experiencing homelessness and social justice?