For a Human Rights pod cast I’ve never offered traditional views of human rights. After all, I describe a right as something that cannot be taken away. In my brief time on this planet I have always shied away from traditional descriptions. Mostly they offer a definition for the simple-minded. Yet, most of what they attempt to describe is complex, a simple definition only compounds the issue. Thus, from a young age I’ve sought to condense definitions, philosophies, and ways of life into a more concise worldview. Homelessness is an issue that I’ve sought to condense.
According to a report by The National Alliance to End Homelessness there were 564,708 people without homes in 2015 (a study for 2016 is not complete yet). At the start of 2015 there were 320 million people living in the United States. .0017% of the entire U.S population was homeless in 2015 (this figure is smaller considering the population figure I am using was taken just prior to entering 2015).
In Crime: White we learned that just over 10 million arrests were made in 2015. This figure is nearly twice that of the homeless population. In Rape Culture: America we learned that 880, 744 women will be raped (this does not include men) a year. In Farmland Prostitution we learned that there are 21 million workers for 2.2 million farms in the U.S and the majority are undocumented workers who are mistreated. In Vote For Everyone we discovered the staggering statistic that 420,000 children will go without finding a family. In Transgender Psychology we learned that 280,000 transgender people would attempt suicide.
We should pause at this point for me to explain that I had begun this endeavor and told myself homelessness was an issue off the table. However, I pass beggars everyday I go to work, and could no longer keep this topic to myself. Clearly the topics we’ve covered in 2016 show larger, and greater, human rights issues in our backyards. Yet, homelessness receives the greatest attention. Why? After a refreshing shower we might travel downtown to go out for dinner. In the process of this adventure we pass a person begging to change, they smell and look miserable. We think of our warm house and fat back account. The contradiction is jarring –I use contradictions to make points on this show all the time. We begin to have emotions, which deeply affect us.
The problem is that with 320 million people in the U.S it would be really hard for you to recognize .0017% of the population. Let’s draw a comparison: in 2015 American Indians made up 2% of the U.S population. Can you recall one Native American you met? There were 6.6 million of them. Let’s draw another comparison: New York, New York has a population of 8, 175, 133 people. If all the homeless people in the United States were placed in this city they’d account for .06% of the population.
The reason I pass so many beggars on my way to work is because I live in the capital of North Carolina. When I was in Los Angeles earlier this month homeless people were everywhere. It appeared like a national problem. However, we must recognize that cities are where the money is, and the higher population counts. You can’t recall seeing a Native American in 2015, because you don’t live near where they live. If you grew up in my hometown you would have been hard pressed to find a homeless person within a 100-mile radius. Cost of living in a city is higher than in a rural area, if you lose your job in a city you have less time to recover.
The argument then becomes one of whose fault is it that homelessness exists. Is it mine? Is it yours? Does anyone have the right to a house? No. A house can be taken away. A job can be taken away. Money can be taken away. How should we then approach homelessness? That’s the exact topic I discuss in side this 16th episode of Logical Moderation (Off the Cuff).