Unhoused (or sometimes) Houseless. “Unhoused” means having no house. If you’re older, like me, you probably remember people living on the streets being referred to as “bums.” The word “bum” means these individuals don’t want to work, and thus they are living on the streets. The word “bum” was replaced with “homeless.” If someone is homeless, that’s description. A person without a home is homeless. There’s no judgment stating a person’s homeless; it’s a description and it leaves blame and choice out of the equation. The word “unhoused” has a different meaning. If someone is unhoused, that means the system is responsible for their living on the streets; the system caused them not to have housing. The prefix “-un” suggested something intentional changed in their circumstance, like “untied” or “unearthed.” It is helpful to compare these words. We have moved from “bum,” which means someone’s lack of housing is their fault (usually due to laziness) to “homeless,” which describes the condition of not having housing, to “unhoused,” which means the system is at fault for one’s lack of housing.
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