Comments to HUD Using Orwellian Language

This comment from Brook F. was left on our Blog about the Department of Housing and Urban Development trying to redefine the word "homeless."  It is such a good comment it deserves its own entry.  Here is a link to the blog entry and below is Brook F's comment.

Being homeless IS NOT HAVING YOUR OWN HOME, either renting or owning, THAT YOU CALL YOUR OWN. Homelessness is: living with family or friends because you DON'T have your OWN HOME due to loss of income, due to health or disability, or due to extenuating circumstances out of your control.

Being homeless and living in another's home, a shelter, or on the streets creates severe limitations socially, emotionally, physically and financially. It also is at a cost for those who are providing you shelter, in particular those who open their homes to you. They become burdened as well, despite their helpful intentions: an increase in utility usage, food, loss of privacy (for both families in the home), and a strain on the familial or friend relationship.

This is JUST A SMALL PORTION of what it means to be homeless. I know. I am a homeless person. I just got back on my own recently. It was not easy. It was with the help of others' services. I am also a full time social work student at Case MSASS, working towards my MSSA. HOMELESSNESS is more than just being "on the streets" or in "an uninhabitable" place to sleep. It is a mindset you fall into, it is a way of surviving, it is being stared at, ridiculed, pitied, ignored, dehumanized, and devalued. MY LIFE MATTERS. And so do the MILLIONS of other homeless lives in this country. We want sustainable, livable wage work, affordable and safe housing and neighborhoods, and to be seen for the human beings we are, with intelligence, wisdom, insight, and understanding of the world and others around us. WE ARE YOU. We always have been you-- Just harder hit.

Brook F left on the NEOCH website on March 13, 2017

Unfortunately, many who work in the shelters or social service providers are not listening and continue to insist on using the offensive phrase "literally homeless."  I will correct anyone who uses it with me, but the federal department keeps using it and making this offensive language common. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

HUD is Playing Orwellian Mind Games

*The Department of Housing and Urban Development definition of “literally homeless”: “Individual or family who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence, meaning: (i) Has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not meant for human habitation; (ii) Is living in a publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements (including congregate shelters, transitional housing, and hotels and motels paid for by charitable organizations or by federal, state and local government programs); or (iii) Is exiting an institution where (s)he has resided for 90 days or less and who resided in an emergency shelter or place not meant for human habitation immediately before entering that institution."

This is from Cuyahoga County Office of Homeless Services talking about HUD's new strategy for redefining homelessness with words instead of actual housing.  This is similar to their functional zero campaign or "complete counts" that are neither and pushing plans to end homelessness that were actually ending homelessness for only a small group.   HUD is becoming a master at using the George Orwell tools for changing reality. 

"Don't Call Me Literally Homeless. I believe I am figuratively homeless!"The latest is the use of "literally homeless" to describe the opposite of the word literally.  Everyone in the world understands the abstract concept of a home, and they also understand the opposite of that concept.  Those who do not work in the shelters or homeless services understand a homeless person is one who does not have a place to live.  The world understands those who pay themselves for a motel room, sleep on a couch, or a basement are in fact literally homeless.  HUD is trying to say that the arbitrary definition made up by a bureaucrat is now "literally homeless."  It is like some kind of sick joke that the Ministry of Love would propose in the world of Big Brother.  Imagine the heartbreak of a family who had the teacher tell them that the school teachers believe that the family is homeless because they are sleeping on a couch or a motel, and then they go to get help from the County and the smug caseworker says, "Sorry, your family is not literally homeless. Come back when you lose everything and are living on the streets because you don't qualify for help." It is horrible to treat taxpayers like this.

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry.