What is clear from the literature on this issue however is that homelessness should not be viewed merely in terms of an individual’s current living status, and certainly this issue should not be considered merely as symptomatic of a “bigger picture” which, on the face of it, may predominantly implicate the systemic housing shortage in our cities and local communities.
Indeed, at the very heart of this issue is not just the practical consideration for the young person, of having no place to live. Personally speaking, homelessness is much more than being merely indicative of one’s residential status or living circumstances at a point in time. It is much more than this…
For a young person, the impact of homelessness is more deeply etched, as it often leads to the shattering of one’s perception of family as a source of safety, security and love, and essentially the ripping away of what may or may not have been the illusion that that one has a place where one belongs in one’s world.
The devastating realization of the tenuousness of one’s day to day safety net (i.e. securing somewhere to stay), and the hurt and disappointment that accompanies the realization that no one within one’s family is willing or able to reach out and offer support.
If one’s own family and specifically, one’s caregivers, aren’t an available source of love, security and safety, where else is one likely to source these elements that are so vital to human belonging and secure connection…?
In terms of being homeless, the element that impacted most dramatically on me as a teen was the cold realization that the only person I could truly depend on from that point was me. From this moment on, it was difficult to associate the concept of family with security or dependability.
Unfortunately, that realization triggered a profound shift in my ability to also trust others, even in relationships outside of the family unit.
Although I did not realize it until much later in life, for me the experience of becoming homeless led to a subsequent loss of trust in the concept of family as the source of a stable foundation.