Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Failure to Think

 Is building homes for the homeless really a solution?

You have a family member who is running a fever, with a temperature of 105 degrees. You take him to a doctor who says he will solve the problem by putting the person in a bathtub filled with ice water.

If you have any capacity for critical thinking, you know that the fever is not the problem. The fever is the result of an underlying illness, and you expect the doctor to discover that underlying illness and to treat it.

So why do we settle for politicians “solving the homeless problem” by simply building homes for the homeless?

When a politician sees a person living in squalor on the street, he tells us that we can take care of that person by saying that the person’s problem is that he/she is “homeless” and giving that person a free home.

But being homeless is not that person’s problem any more than the 105 degree temperature was your family member’s problem. Being homeless is the result of a problem that the person had before they became homeless. That problem might be any one of or a combination of many things; alcohol or drug addiction, mental health issues, family problems, employment problems and more.

To actually help that person it is necessary to look at her/him not as a member of a class (“homeless”), but to look at him/her as an individual and determine why that person lost their home to begin with, and to help them with that problem.

But that is hard to do, and politicians don’t do hard things.


  1. You're right, but I think homelessness makes those problems worse, and makes addressing them harder/impossible. Sometimes a doctor does have to treat the symptoms before it's safe to turn their attention to the root cause of those symptoms.

  2. You make a good point, but are governments taking that approach? Not as far as I can tell.