Get Personal

An Interview with a homeless woman and a survey.

The topic of homeless is a very broad because it’s hard to know exactly why one would become homeless. There are many reasons, such as unemployment or uneducated. However, there are some reasons that we need to pay attention to: abuse and abandonment. Many women are on the streets because they are either running away from abusive relationships or financial reasons. Then there are many children on the streets because they were born from a homeless woman or abandon by their parent. To understand more on how these come to be and the general knowledge of this that people have, I conduct a survey and interview a woman who use to be homeless. First, I gather more knowledge on what a homeless woman’s life is like from a direct source and use that as a foundation for my survey questions.

In my previous posts, I only used sources from big newspaper company like The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times. Although they are highly credible, the knowledge and data I accumulate to write my posts are all secondary or third sources. Basically, hand-me-downs. The author of those articles might have got their sources from other sources who might have also got their source from another source. It’s like a chain of reasons and arguments made accordingly to the author’s point-of-view, therefore although I might make a sound argument utilizing them, it’s incredibly lacking because it’s not a primary source. That’s why I will directly get my own source and make it primary. First, I find a homeless woman to conduct an interview. Then I conduct a survey to test the knowledge of the people on what they think causes homeless, especially for women and children. Through the data I gathered, I will finally get a sense on how knowledgeable or ignorant society are regarding the problem of homelessness.

The woman who don’t want to be named.

I made a post on several of my school’s group pages, such as ones specifically for people who are looking for housing and jobs or opportunity. My target is college students. The reason is because there are a lot of students who directly went to college right after high school, therefore if any of them experience homeless before that means they were homeless while they were still teenagers, which to me is consider being homeless as a child. What I post was this. “I’m currently writing an article on homeless, especially on women and children. If you are women who had experience being homeless or is homeless and don’t mind sharing your story, please message me.” The woman who responded to my message didn’t want her named to be published, therefore let’s call her Ms. A. Ms. A is a 24 years old woman majoring in computer science. She was homeless 6 years ago. In another word, she was homeless when she was 18.

I asked for her story.

“I become homeless because my mom kicked me out right when I turn 18. I was raised only by my mom and I guess she doesn’t want to be bother by me anymore once I become legal. It was quite hard since I had no money nor a home anymore. So I hop around the streets and shelters for a few years. At that time, I was still attending high school and had free breakfast and lunch.”

I asked for her experience in the shelters.

“I don’t really like them. I will only stay in one if I become desperate enough, like when it get hella cold. The non-female ones are usually very dangerous for us since we can get raped or molested in discreet places like emergency exit or bathroom. The female-only ones are not that safe either since they just want to steal your stuff.”

Finally, I asked how did she overcome her situation and become what she is today.

“I worked out a benefit situation with someone to have a decent commodity. Then I work around the clock like crazy with several part-time. Then a few years later, I save up quite a bit and was able to get a decent full-time job so my situation gradually got better.”

Ms. A is a prime example of abandonment. Her family abandons her the moment she turned 18. According to her, she wasn’t the only one. There were quite a lot of others with the same situation as her and some that are even younger than her. She stated, “Not all family are a happy one. Stuff will happen.” Also, her description regarding the shelters makes me disappointed, especially when, according to “S.F spends record $241 million on homeless, can’t track results” by Heather Knights and Kevin Fagan on SF Chronicle, the government spends 39.7 million dollars on it. And like many women on the streets, she had to depend on someone utilizing everything.

Do people know that this is happening?

I did a survey and asked about 25 people on campus regarding on situations like Ms. A.

My questions were all yes or no questions.

1. Do you think shelters are a safe haven for homeless women and children?
2. Do you think that children are homeless because of abandonment? (Ex. Getting kick out by parent.)
3. Do you think women are homeless because of domestic violence?
4. Do you think women are homeless because of unemployment?

And the result was, the majority think the shelters are safe, everyone thinks women are homeless because of both domestic violence and unemployment, and it was half/half for children are homeless because of abandonment.

In conclusion…

After my interview with Ms. A, I realized that there are a lot of unethical and sad sacrifice people have to make in order to just live. Furthermore, the survey had shown me that people’s knowledge on such topic is all generalized knowledge acknowledge by the mass, such as homeless is caused by unemployment. There’s more to it than unemployment, such as getting kicked out by parents. I start to think we should have a law against such action.


Citation: Heather Knights and Kevin Fagan. “Not all family are a happy one. Stuff will happen.” SF Chronicle. 2016, Feb 6th.

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