Homelessness

Public homelessness is a category of homeless people without roof over their heads – people who reside on the street. Hidden homelessness is category of people without home, sheltered in institutionally or otherwise supported housing.

Theoretical framework

Which are the main causes for homelessness?

The causes for homelessness are either structural, related to the transition from socialistic to capitalistic system (Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, and Macedonia) or classical, categorized in the following manner:

– Societal (poverty, unemployment, domestic violence, conflicts, interaction problems),

– Institutional (leaving the institutions, absence of guaranteed housing policy)

– Individual reasons (addictions, mental disorder).

 

Which are the main demographic indicators of homelessness?

– Predominately between 40 to 60 years of age;

– The bulk of the homeless people are single;

– The bulk of the homeless in developed countries are foreigners;

– The bulk of the homeless have completed primary education;

– The homeless are often professionally passive, undertaking occasional work under no employment contract;

– In developed countries the homeless are of younger age and stay homeless for a shorter period of time.

 

How is homelessness perceived in Macedonia? Since when are the homeless treated as a marginalized group in Macedonia?

We can observe the homeless as individuals with dysfunctions, as individuals who lose their social bonds and social roles and who are constantly labeled by the people who have homes.

The impossibility of realization of certain roles is related to contradictions of the expectations from the homeless people. The staff in the social welfare centers expects them to take an active and compliant participation in the social life, whereas others tie the homelessness to passivity and apathy.

Our research team is confronted with all kinds of labeling of the homeless, considering the fact that different circumstances led these people in the state of homelessness whereas the prejudices from society are just worsening their situation.

This marginalized group is officially marked as a vulnerable category by the Ministry of labor and social policy only after year2000.

 

What is happening with the homeless person in the transitional period, when he/she perceives the other homeless people as different from himself/herself until the moment he/she begins to feel as one of them?

According to in vivo codes the first phase of their new life or of public homelessness might have various terms. However, this is the phase where the homeless don’t know what to do with themselves; their close friends and relatives cannot recognize them and at the same time they are unfamiliar to the other homeless people.

In this period the homeless individual does not perceive themselves as similar to the other homeless people and does not want to be identified with them. The everyday tension of the process of entering/not entering in the role of homeless person limits the belonging of the individuals to a certain group.

In this phase consuming alcohol and neglecting personal hygiene are common, as is search for food and looking for information from other homeless people.
Gradually, from the status of undefined identity the homeless enters the world of those similar to themselves – the other homeless people. The process of maturing in the new role is at the same time the beginning of identification with the new social group.

 

How can we define Homelessness?

The phenomenon of homelessness can be viewed from three different aspects, either as a condition of having or not having a home, a limited inclusion in the social life or a process in which the individual faces identity problems.

The first aspect of homelessness denotes absence of housing. A person in such situation is typically deprived of the basic human needs, leading to various deviations. The rooflessness or homelessness may be public (sensu stricte) or hidden (sensu largo), where the homeless people are sheltered in reception centres, shelters, with or without institutional support, or with the support of relatives and friends. The public (street) homelessness is often a result of potential homelessness which consists of unstable and insecure housing. The international standards call upon the need of considering the potential homelessness an integral part of homelessness.

The second aspect points us to observe homelessness as a process in which the socialization of the homeless person takes place in a specific manner. The homeless person “falls out” of a specific community due to his/her constant mobility. When the person is deprived of the possibility to fulfill certain societal roles, he/she loses the ties with the community, resulting in termination of the relations with the family, neighbors and friends. The inability to fulfill certain roles is tied to the ambiguity in the expectations of the homeless.

A third, slightly different group of expectations comprises those of the other homeless people, who look at homelessness as an integral part of a symbolic interaction. Therefore, the homelessness is more of a process rather than a condition. The homeless people become immersed in their loneliness, hopelessness and despair. The start of the homelessness is a turning point in their lives, which leads to insecure and disorganized life. The emotional void exacerbates the actual homelessness (lack of roof over the head). The inclusion in the world of homeless people carries along a need for self-defining as a homeless person.

What is the structure of homeless people in Macedonia?

Homelessness is variable category. In Europe the homeless are more often younger people and this tendency is also noticeable in Macedonia. According to the analysis made by the Institute for social work and policy at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje in 2002, 50 percent of the homeless people were single, 35 percent were divorced, 14 percent were married and 3 percent were widows. The rest had no relations with their previous environment.

What are the routes of the homeless people?

Homelessness is an urban phenomenon, typical for the big cities where homeless people get mixed and lost among the crowds.

Homeless people from the group of public homelessness, can be most often found at the train and bus stations, at bazar fairs, in parks and quite often, they can be noticed in malls and sport bets.
During the summer they switch the place of staying more often.