Homelessness is a Choice, Is It?

By Edmond Yap, Contributor for The Good List and Founder of Edunation

“These people are able bodied, they don’t have to beg”

“They throw rubbish everywhere and litter the streets”

“Can’t they find a place to stay?”

The question is NOT if homelessness is a problem, it is. The real question is why does it happen? Why do people stay on the streets?

People say that the homeless have options that they chose to be there. Here is the question, have we ever chosen by choice to stay under a filthy bridge? Have we ever chosen by choice to go hungry, to sleep on cardboard, to have no toilet to use, to be looked down by family, to be shunned by everybody around us, to be dirty, lonely?


Then what makes us think that our homeless friends would actively choose to be homeless? Is it a choice they made?

Is there a real difference between a person with no options and a person who thinks they have no options? Because we can all argue that homelessness is a choice.

On one hand you have person A. Person A cannot do anything about his situation, he is totally helpless.

On the other is a person B. Person B has the power to change his situation around, but believes that he is powerless, that he cannot make his life better.

So here’s the real question, is there a practical difference between person A and person B? If you don’t “believe” you can change your life, isn’t it the same as having no “actual” ability to change your life. You get the same results.

We are all just lucky. Born in a different place and time, having a different school and family, otherwise we could be homeless on the street this very moment. It could have been you. It could have been me. We could have been on the street facing prosecution everyday. Getting evicted by the town council and frowned upon by the public.

The solution to the homelessness problem? Let’s start admitting that we have a problem, and that the problem is not our homeless friends, but with social systems, governance and our own, uncaring attitudes. We don’t spend enough time helping our homeless friends feel powerful, that they are capable of turning their lives around.

Because if a homeless man knows he has options, he will choose to live in home with a lawn, surrounded by friends and family he loves, maybe have 3 cats and a dog and to have a rewarding career.

He will not be under a bridge.

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