Living the Hell of the Homeless
By Hatim Yousuf

January 29, 2009
Homelessness is one of the many major concerns in Canada and in other regions across the world. Each day, thousands of people do not have a place to call ‘home’ – they are the homeless. While we sleep in the warmth and comfort of our bedrooms every night, they are left to sleep in crowded, rodent-infested shelters, filthy narrow alleys, or under trees in the parks. They beg to earn a couple of dollars everyday in order to find themselves a sanctuary. Even though we pay our taxes and perhaps, spare some change whenever confronted by a homeless person, but after that, we leave this problem for the next person to solve.
However, the problem is getting worse every year. Homelessness is basically caused by poverty. The underlying causes can include poor physical or mental health, violence or abuse in the home, lack of employment or an income, and a shortage of affordable housing in the community. It is not one’s personal choice to be homeless, like it’s not an option to go skydiving without a parachute, but the lack of funds to pay for housing.
Imagine waking up every morning, begging people for money so you can find a place to get some protection from the harsh conditions of the outdoors. You spend the chilli nights on a cold, hard bench with a small torn blanket. Wrapping the blanket around your body, you try to trap as much heat inside as possible so that you do not freeze to death. The racket of the busy streets bursting as loud as shell shock in your ears, accompanied by the bright streetlights, irritates every minute of your incomplete sleep. Peaceful nights are rarely witnessed living out in the open, just like it’s impossible to glance at the eclipse with the naked eye. We disrespect them for being homeless just as factory owners do when they are exploiting their labourers. When a homeless person presents a small paper cup for money, people stop smiling, shrug their shoulders, shake their head, some would even spit in it. In the split second of our inconsiderate action, they are entirely humiliated.
One may ask, “Why don’t homeless people just get a job?” The upsetting reality of the situation is that 30 to 50 percent of the homeless are employed, but their low incomes result in eviction from their residence. More than 80 percent of Canada’s homeless are improperly housed or on the verge of eviction. Many are sleeping in temporary beds, with friends or relatives, in church basements, in welfare motels, or in abandoned buildings and vehicles. They fall asleep, frustrated, and hope never to face the reality of eviction. Some are granted their wish, while others wake to their dystopia – another day full of begging and loitering.
Their life is a form of hell on Earth, blazing and scarring their souls forever. Their suffering is as excruciating as the piercing of a knife into skin, blood running relentlessly. In order to relieve their stress and pain, eighty percent of the homeless end up wasting their money on drugs, always regretting the mistake after addiction. Many of the homeless are victims of domestic violence. Imagine your parents, relatives, or friends being no longer able to accommodate you. Suddenly, you do not exist in the world; people ignore you as they walk by. You exist in the feral domain of one who owns nothing in the world where everything is owned; where boundaries and rules have no limits.
One in seven users of shelters across Canada is a child. These children suffer more from lack of education opportunities, infections, anemia, injuries, burns, developmental disabilities, and incomplete immunization. In 2004, the poverty rate in Canada was 17.6 percent for children under 18 years. Given such a high rate, it is a shame to call ourselves concerned Canadians.
The homeless are treated like garbage, and seen as pollutants contaminating our society. We do not take into consideration their struggle for survival, but only what we see on the surface. They did not choose to be in such a state, tarnishing their lives with the pain and humiliation that comes with being homeless. After all, we are all humans; the only difference is that they are less fortunate than us. Homelessness could happen to any one at any time. Being homeless does not rest in the choice of the person, but by the wealth in their pockets.


"Homelessness 'chronic' in Canada: study." - Canadian News Sports
Entertainment Kids Docs Radio TV. 17 Jan. 2009

Hurley, Jennifer A., ed. The Homeless: Opposing Viewpoints. New York: Greenhaven P,
Incorporated., 2002.

"What is homelessness?" Raising the Roof. 16 Jan. 2009

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