Houseless and Homeless Same? Not exactly.
Many think so, but they are different and overlap. Many think that if you have a roof over your head – housed that is (shelter, rooming house, somebody’s couch) then you are not homeless. They think you are homeless only if you live outside, on the streets. They are wrong.
If you don’t get the difference, think about it until you do. Read the words of the homeless veteran below and see if anything clicks. The old saying, “home is where the heart is” is quite valid and true. Just because a homeless person is in shelter or sleeping on a friend’s couch, or living in a cheap motel, doesn’t mean he or she is not still homeless.
They may be housed and homeless at the same time. This is a big issue and a terribly sore spot with the homeless. To them there is a world of difference; almost fighting words! There are homeless veterans and houseless veterans, two different levels of homeless, but don’t say that someone housed cannot be homeless. The houseless veteran is one that sleeps in a doorway or back alley or along some creek bank somewhere. The homeless veteran covers that and also the housed that cannot make a home out of their accomidations.
From Wikipedia: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines the term “homeless” or “homeless individual or homeless person” as — (1) an individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence; and (2) an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is: A) supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters, and transitional housing for the mentally ill); B) an institution that provides a temporary residence for individuals intended to be institutionalized; or C) a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodations for human beings.
Definition 1) covers the unhoused homeless and 2) covers the housed homeless. There are others, including those living in cars, campers, paid motel rooms/flop houses, rooming houses, bus terminals, transit cars, and couch surfing that kind of blur whether they are covered at all or included in C).
Most homeless census counts do not count the homeless that are able to score time in a motel or hotel as homeless, although usually they get that brief stay for only a few days or a week. Most homeless census counts also do not count homeless in transit (those at bus or train stations or actually in transit), even though some live in the metro transit systems for years. The result is an undercount.
Comment from a Homeless Vet in Ohio on homeless and houseless:
From the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary: homeless
One entry found for homeless.
: having no home or permanent place of residence
– home·less·ness noun
“Today, my mother and I had the “homeless” conversation for the first time ever. It was terribly brief. I had mentioned having spent the last year as a homeless veteran. She said that I have never been homeless — I was staying with [my last host] until I moved into her house. I told her that being homeless and being houseless are not the same thing. She said she didn’t have time to discuss it and walked away.
“Yes, there was a roof over my head and there is still a roof over my head at her house; however, it was crystal clear from the moment I was told that I could move in — both places — that I was allowed to stay for a while, transient, short term, not permanent or anything close to it. I was permitted a temporary stay in someone else’s home, permitted to “make myself at home”, but never permitted to make the home my home.
“It was clear from day one — this is temporary, it had better not last very long, or a day will arrive when my belongings are moved out for me. My last host placed them safely covered and well hidden (from the road) on his front porch. “
(Oldtimer’s note, he was recently moved out – van loaded up and transported elsewhere by his parents – wore out his welcome – their home was not his home and he was homeless even there – housed homeless in his parent’s home.)
“Maybe some people really do have to be homeless for a while to understand that houseless and homeless are not the same thing. “Houseless” and “homeless” frequently overlap, but they are not interchangeable synonyms, not at all. No, my mother really has zero clue what spending a year without a place where I was welcome to stay permanently has done to my psyche. “Coming back” from this might be a little easier if my family had the slightest clue where I “went”. Yeah, I think it is going to take me a while.”
Elsewhere in his blog he says this: “Housed-homeless”, it seems like such a strange concept, but there’s probably more of us “couch surfing” veterans than anyone is counting as “officially” homeless .
He has an interesting blog. Go visit.
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