credit: Arslan/Flickr

It can happen to anyone: from the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor. While financial poverty is among the leading causes to homelessness, a financially affluent individual can also neglect his/her wealth for a life of poverty. Whether by force or through sheer madness, a wealthy individual may become financially desolate and homeless. Whichever path he/she takes to homelessness, it is far from the normal ideal to be homeless. In fact, the reality is that there are approximately 7,000 homeless persons in the District of Columbia on any given night, according to the 2012 point and time count.

Some psychiatrists have attributed homelessness as a negative symptom in relation to schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder, while others simply believe homelessness to be a misfortune caused by financial irresponsibility. After my research on the Patriot Act, as an Ethiopian immigrant I believe that there is a possibility that homelessness may be caused by the American government and/or police through the Patriot Act for those suspected of being “terrorists,” who are often immigrants. The Patriot Act allows government officials to search homes without the homeowner’s permission and/or awareness. Furthermore, the Patriot Act permits government officials to contact through phone wiretapping individuals that are renting homes to the “suspected terrorist.”

Being homeless deprives an individual of their basic constitutional and human rights. It is difficult for homeless individuals to obtain secondary identifications such as state identifications like a driver’s license, open a postal box and/or bank account. Worst of all, homelessness hinders the ability to gain and maintain employment and to pursue advanced education.

In spite of obstacles faced by the homeless, there are advantages in even the most undesirable circumstances. As I am saving funds to own a home, I’ve learned gratitude and humbleness through my transitional stage of being homeless. I have also come to very much appreciate my customers while writing and selling Street Sense newspaper.

Lastly, I’ve been encouraged by a Biblical scripture: “Jesus said The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20 ).