Last Updated 27 May 2020

An Interview with a homeless

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After watching the film, “The Pursuit of Happyness” which starred Will Smith, one of the salient scenes that the researcher personally find strikingly disheartening is the part when Will Smith and his son struggled to joined a queue of destitute for an overnight stay on a welfare home.

The number of homeless is too many for the welfare shelters to accommodate.  In the homeless population data from AHAR in 2008, 41% of white Americans, 12.3% of African Americans and 12.5% of Hipic Americans respectively are homeless, which only proves how rampant homelessness in our nation.

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(US Human Rights Network Housing Caucus, 2008) It is quite ironic that homelessness is one of the pressing problems that the US faces despite being the most dominant country politically and economically in the world.

While the film directly attributed homelessness to poverty i.e. Smith’s inadequate earnings, this stark reality is just a tip of the iceberg considering the vast economic opportunities that the US provides precisely why it was dubbed the land of milk and honey.

To learn more about the causes of homelessness, the researcher conducted an informal interview with a homeless woman who was randomly selected in a welfare shelter. This led to one’s discovery that homeless is not simply a result of poverty, but consequence of some socio psychological imbalances and problems that emanate from one’s family.

Interview Results and Analysis

The interviewee was an African American with two children.  She has no idea where his eldest son is at the moment.  She was not able to finish secondary school because she got pregnant early.  Her father was a drunkard who always beats them up at home.  Her mother left them for another man.

She decided to leave their home by getting pregnant. Unfortunately, she also met the wrong man who only perpetuated her agony in life.  He was an ex convict who find it hard to get a real job.

She stayed with her live in partner for a year but decided to leave again as he started to get back to his monkey business.  She left her son. After seven years, she got pregnant again but has no idea who the father was because she worked as a hooker.

Her 9 year old daughter stays in a foster home.  She said that there were moments in her life when she had nervous breakdowns and at one point even tried to commit suicide.  The interview was long and very emotional.  In a nutshell, the homeless woman lived a difficult and miserable life.

Following a Symbolic Inter-actionist Perspective, homelessness is a symptom of a deeper problem that roots from the most basic social institution, the family.  In this short interview with a homeless woman, it must be noted that she didn’t come from a homeless family.

It was homeless in the sense that it lacked the love and care needed to properly shape and guide children towards a pleasant outlook in life.  Poverty also played a critical factor in the interviewee’s circumstances because poverty is more inclined to difficulties in relationships and family violence because it shapes circumstances that lead to the same such as lack of education and depression.


Homelessness is more than just a consequence of poverty or one’s inability to purchase a home.  It is rooted from some psychological disturbance brought about by a history of significant emotional difficulties, difficulties in relationships, and family violence, etc.

This in turn inculcates the attitudes and psychological predilection to stay poor and homeless including a sense of helplessness to change one’s economic condition, psychological stability and homelessness.


US Human Rights Network Housing Caucus (2008). Homelessness and Affordable Housing.  Response to the Periodic Report of the United States to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Retrieved from:

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