What does a homeless person look like to you? Is it the person sitting in a cardboard box under a bridge, possibly with a dog, usually with a sleeping bag and little else to protect them from the elements? Someone with their worldly possessions in a shopping cart? Sure, that’s what a homeless person in the most extreme of situations can look like.
But homelessness does not have a face. There are no representing characteristics that we can look and to easily define what homelessness looks like or determine a person is homeless according to their appearance. We can assume, and sometimes we could even be correct, but often you’d be surprised to see what homelessness really looks like.
Homelessness can look like a person with shabby clothing and dirt under their nails. Homelessness can look like a person sleeping under a bridge in a cardboard box tent. Homelessness can also look like you. Homelessness can be a well-dressed professional who drives an expensive car, who just so happens to sleep in that car at night as well. Homelessness can be your average Joe with a blue-collar job that stays at a motel every night with no place to call home. Homelessness could be a construction worker who hurt his back on the job and is no longer able to work and not eligible for disability or unemployment. Most people don’t plan to be homeless.
Many individuals who find themselves homeless had a plan for their life; that plan probably included a big house, a successful career, and a nice retirement package. Things change. For many, hardships will come and destroy exactly what they had worked so hard to build.