Four walls. A roof. Doors that can be locked with a key. These are things that provide you with security, safety and stability when you’re housed. It’s easy to take these feelings for granted. I sure did until I lost my housing, and I had to struggle to keep my security, safety and stability in my newly unhoused state.
Now, imagine if you’re trying to avoid some asshole who’s harassing or bullying you, and wondering, “Where do you escape to when you have no home to take refuge?”
Picture yourself keeping all the emotions and trauma inside until they come to a boil and make you want to cry or scream.
Can you picture the shelter you might fashion – whether it’s a tent, a sleeping bag or a backpack with your personal belongings so that you could get some rest?
I had to keep the things I needed, such as clothing, hygiene items and other personal effects on me or in my backpack at all times so they wouldn’t get stolen. When I stayed in the shelters, I kept my stuff locked up when it was possible, or close to me when it wasn’t to prevent theft.
Picture being cold, wet and exposed to the elements when the weather turns awful, and you need a place to change out of your damp and dirty clothes. Where would you go to shake off the cold, cough, aches, pains and other ailments that arrive more quickly and sooner in life than you expect?
Or constantly being afraid of so-called “public servants” stealing or trashing your stuff during encampment sweeps?
But we have a solution to this problem. There are already four vacant housing units to one unhoused person in San Francisco: 4 to 1. For less money than it takes to operate shelters, housing subsidies can be funded, making it easier for folks to have four walls, a roof, a door and keys.
Four walls, a roof, doors that can be locked with a key. It’s as simple as that. When we are housed, we all get to feel safe, secure and stable.
The original video of this piece can be found at https://bit.ly/HousingIsSafety. It was produced and commissioned by Tipping Point Community and Wonder: Strategies for Good. TJ Johnston wrote and narrated. Bec Sloane and Cam Upton provided animation and visuals.
Street Sheet reporter and assistant editor of Street Sheet TJ Johnston is also a member of Tipping Point’s community advisory board.