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Addressing Homelessness Through Strength-Based, People-First Language

For the Final Project, I have decided to concentrate on homelessness, a critical issue related to the human services profession that affects my community and the entire world. I chose the topic of homelessness because I have seen its impact in practice when I was working as a human services worker. I have seen the difficulties that people who are homeless have in finding and maintaining housing and the challenges they encounter in trying to access needed resources.

Over the years, homeless people have been labelled with derogatory terms that have the potential to diminish their humanity, for instance, the use of the term ‘the homeless’ or ‘vagrants’ (Murray et al., 2024). Such language creates the impression that being homeless is an unchangeable state in the person.

To reframe the issue using strength-based, people-first language, I will refer to homelessness as “people who are experiencing housing unsteadiness.” This language does not focus on the problem itself but on the fact that individuals are facing it and the capacity they have to overcome it. In this regard, I compare homelessness to sailing through a stormy sea where people require a safe haven to seek refuge and ultimately return to the shore. This metaphor points towards the facet of strength and the possibility of renewal, which becomes possible with the support of the community and its resources in order to help the person in question get back on his/her feet and lead a normal life again.

By using careful language when discussing homelessness and ensuring that there is a clear plan in place to address the issue, it is possible to build a better society that is more accepting of homeless people, which can lead to long-term change.

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