The Invisible Plight of Homelessness In The Middle Class

photo of tent city in Santa Ana (Orange County, California)

by Dena Leichnitz


 

The blight of homelessness is hitting the middle class. 

WE THINK OF HOMELESSNESS as a problem of poverty, but every year in California due to wildfires, homelessness hits the middle class. Homes burn down and people lose everything.

Of course, that is not the only way people end up homeless; sickness in the family and the piling medical bills can drive them to the streets. Some lose their jobs like David Raether, (video below), and in California especially, losing your job can be an one way ticket to Skid Row.

For some, their time of dependence on the Red Cross and other social programs for survival is short-lived. However, for others the road back will be much longer. This is especially true if there is no public sympathy behind you, like with the annual wildfires, even though these people knew this was a real possibility and bought the homes anyway.

Homelessness is not just about mental illness, drugs and having little to no income.

But that does not mean there is no economic component to it; it is just more widespread than you might think. Homelessness is fast becoming a problem for the people who hold society together-the middle class.

David Raether said in his video, I committed the great American sin – I failed. He went from writing on Roseanne during its original run to sleeping underneath a bridge in Pasadena, California. David’s story is just one of many. In fact, recently a tent encampment was taken down. Was it in Skid Row? Nope, it was in Santa Ana, California.

“Most of those people have been living in county shelters and motels in Santa Ana and Anaheim in recent months after the county cleared the homeless encampments where they resided.”

For those of you who do not know much about California, Orange County in which Santa Ana resides, it is one of the richer areas in California outside of Beverly Hills.. In fact the median income for Santa Ana in 2016 was $61,895.

So, if people are building tent encampments in such a city, then we need to start asking why middle class people are becoming homeless and what can be done about it? Because whatever we are doing to fix the problem it is not working.

Unlike the homeless in Santa Ana, the middle class homeless tend to be more invisible.

Most middle class homeless tend to live in cars, RVs and other motor vehicles.

 

This means a few things:

  1.  Due to the fact that so many people in California spend their time in cars, you may not know the person parked next to you is homeless.
  2. They are mobile and therefore harder to count. Some communities have places they can park at night and be safe but they must be gone by morning.
  3. Middle class homeless tend to be employed. They just can’t afford rent. And even if they can afford rent, they are not able to afford the other bills.

All in all, the middle class homeless do not have a voice, mostly because most people do not know they even exist. Everyone in the homeless community should be heard and should not be ignored because they live in a car or a tent encampment in Santa Ana. From families in the middle class to homeless in poverty, many are pushed aside. It time for those groups rise up and tell those in charge “We are here and we will not allow you to make us feel like marginal people anymore!”

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