Housing as a Right
A few weeks ago an acquaintance reached out to me asking if I knew anyone needing a roommate. After talking a bit, he told me he was losing his spot and needed a spot to crash for a few days while he looked and applied to new places.
We had an empty bed in our space, so it seemed fine that he could crash, but I had a previous experience burnt in my head. A friend brought over someone who was going to crash a few nights, and it became a few weeks that ended when he stole money from us all and it came out he was a recovering heroine addict. I couldn't shake that experience from my mind, but I didn't want this person I knew to be sleeping in a subway car for a week when we had a roof over an unused bed.
The carrying out of the stay wasn't perfect. I had to leave to help my parents move at this time and other parts of life were demanding attention. I got him in but had to bounce, unfortunately not giving the warm welcome he may have needed.
By the end of the stay, my house mates were un-nerved with a sporadic appearance of someone staying a few days who wasn't a close friend. And I don't blame them. I was stressed as I tried to suppress my instincts after the previous event.
The strain it caused made me realize how fucking dumb it was for this situation to even have to exist in the first place. I had been working with housing groups around income discrimination and other housing advocacy groups, but nothing made me so driven to say housing should be a right as this. Responsibility for the wellness of others shouldn't be placed squarely on the shoulders of those who are empathetic and within reach. When as a collective society, we're not providing adequate support, we place that burden on individuals who don't have the capacity to do the care needed.