Frustratingly, this is something we hear more often than we would like to when campaigning for the rights of people who are street homeless.
It isn’t always the case that our guests are street homeless simply because they have no other option. The vast majority of the time, it is true that our guests do have a choice when it comes to being homeless. However, when looking into this we must first consider the nature of the meaning of choice.
The definition of choice is: “the best or most appropriate of two or more alternatives”. So, when people “choose” to be homeless, it simply means that the alternatives for them are worse than putting themselves in a vulnerable situation by sleeping on the streets.
Consider this, if you were trapped in a burning building and your options were to take your chances walking through flames in a crumbling building to get to safety, or jumping from a third-floor window with nothing below you to cushion your fall - do you truly have a fair and reasonable choice? This is exactly the same for our guests; it’s like an extreme version of “would you rather?” where sadly the consequences are incredibly real.
For many of our guests, the options they have are not only limited but incredibly detrimental to both their physical and mental well-being.
For many, it’s not a case of preference but necessity. The options are being street homelessness or being subjected to daily physical violence, being emotionally manipulated, being forced to live somewhere that is simply not safe, being forced to live against their own principles, and much, much worse.
So, next time you see someone on the streets and make the judgment that they have chosen to be there, consider the alternatives that person was faced with.
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