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Challenges of Housing a Homeless Person

If you are planning to house a homeless person, that’s good and an act of kindness. However, it comes with a fair share of challenges. The good thing is, there is a way to address these problems. I will share my experience and the challenges I faced housing a homeless person. Luckily, this person was a relative and I was able to cope with her. With time, she was able to figure out her life and is now financially stable.

I don't intend to discourage you not to house a homeless person, but I would want you to be psychologically prepared for challenges you can expect and how to deal with them.

Challenges to Expect when Housing a Homeless Person

I will share some of the challenges I faced housing a homeless person. They may not be exactly the same challenges you may face, but they will give you a hint of what to expect.

1. Alcohol and Substance Abuse

Many homeless people are struggling with alcohol and substance abuse. The homeless person I was housing was seriously addicted to cigarettes. She would smoke up to 10 cigars in a day. This left my housing smelling cigars every time.

This was one of the biggest challenges I had to deal with. I started limiting the number of cigars she would smoke in a day. The intention was to help her stop substance abuse in the long run. In the end, she was able to stop smoking, but it took a lot of time, patience, and counseling.

2. Violence

Many homeless people are used to violent life on the streets. Keep this in mind when housing a homeless person. Be careful not to scold them. Otherwise, they can be violent to you even when you are trying to help them by housing them.

One of the best ways to address this challenge is to if a homeless person has wronged you, wait until you are calm. Talk to them in a kind loving manner in such a way as to suggest you are correcting them and not scolding them.

3. Jammed Toilet

One of the major challenges I had was a blocked toilet. I was housing a homeless person that had a mental illness. Most of the time she would dump all sorts of stuff in the toilet ranging from clothing to sanitary pads. This would jam our toilet and every morning I had to hire someone to unblock it.

Try keeping unnecessary clothes from homeless people with mental illness. Also, keep on reminding them where to damp used tampons. They won’t change overnight, but with frequent reminders, they get used to damping them well. Make sure that your garbage bin is near the toilet or bathroom to make it easy for them to remember where to dump them.

4. Littered House

The other challenge you need to be ready to deal with is a littered and disorganized house and compound. Housing a homeless person and especially one that is mentally ill is like taking care of a toddler. You need to accept that this person is sick and start learning how to live with him or her.

This is one of the challenges that I never had a solution to. I got used to it and I had to frequently keep the house in order.  When you understand the psychological challenges a homeless person is facing, you no longer see it as a challenge. However, you need to be very undemanding.

5. Lights and Taps Left On

The other challenge faced was a sudden increase in bills. Most of the time lights and taps were left running. I had to make sure every often I would go check all rooms checking if there are lights on or taps running. This can be challenging especially if you are busy with other chores. But with time, you get used to it. 

To address this challenge, whenever I was leaving the house, I would make sure to switch off the lights at the main switch. The same case for water. I had to make sure that there was just enough water to use in the reservoirs to avoid pilferage.

Summary of Challenges of Housing Homeless People

To house a homeless person, you need to be slow to anger, be very understanding, and be willing to walk with him or her. Homeless people are faced with many challenges like mental illnesses, violence, and substance abuse. Be kind to them and refrain from scolding them instead, collect them when you are calm and composed.