Where do homeless folks hang their hat?

root - Posted on 17 October 2002

by Morgan W. Brown

If "home is where one hangs one's hat," where does a person who is living
homeless hang their hat?

When a person hangs their hat someplace temporarily, are they no longer
considered truly homeless even if, in fact, it is not really their home?

It is ironic that amid this nation of plenty, many are forced to live on the
fringes of society, where homelessness can mean having only hope to hang
one's hat upon.

Being homeless myself, I know well how the smallest items of hope are always
held onto very tightly. Just like one's own sense of dignity, self-respect,
pride -- which are equally cherished and held close, such hope can often
prove useful and even vital in the long journey being undertaken just in
managing to survive as well as living independently.

These core parts of one's self can also be key to what is needed to help
find, obtain and then move into some form of safe, decent and affordable
housing of one's own; which is an essential part of what is needed to end

As near as it may be to my becoming housed once again, after being homeless
in its various forms for five years this time around, one would think
nothing could easily stand in my way. Yet, there are many moments when it
seems too daunting and so very far away to be accomplished on one's own.

There are those days, and even weeks, which do not seem to pass by without a
severe and persistent need to find and renew hope, inner strength as well as
faith in everything.

When I came across a fine choice of hats to take my pick from a couple
months ago, that slowly began to change however.

Not being much in the way of a hat wearer by nature or habit, I was struck
with a feeling of surprise along with a sense of mystery about the need
compelling me to try on the hat which my eyes lit upon. As I tried it on
further, it dawned on me that a hat was needed more than had been previously

Once more I was reminded that whatever the circumstances or, how they are
experienced and felt, there are always other ways of thinking about them and
other methods of accomplishing something when it is waited for a little
while longer and, what is sought is looked for even deeper than we may
believe is possible and, the support needed to do so is received.

Just as crucial though, the value of the smallest or seemingly least
important thing to provide inspiration should never be underestimated;
usually found in what we may perceive to be the most unlikely of places or
persons, especially when it is needed the most.

Never again will I discount the value and importance of a hat.

Having a hat of such good quality as this one is, means I will have to work
even harder to find a home in which to hang my new headwear.

When I do find and move into a place of my own, the hat will be hung where
it can be grabbed at ease when needed. Mine will be worn with pride no
matter how well worn it may get over time. Then, whenever it is off of my
head and in its usual resting place, I will know I am home.

It will be my lasting reminder to never, ever, give up on anything or
anybody -- and, most importantly, never on myself.

Morgan W. Brown is living homeless in Montpelier Vermont.


NAtional Websites on Homelessness and solutions

* Who is Homeless?; NCH Fact Sheet #3;
Published by the National Coalition for the Homeless, February 1999:

* The McKinney Act; NCH Fact Sheet #18;
Published by the National Coalition for the Homeless, April 1999:

* Poverty Versus Pathology: What's "Chronic" About Homelessness;
National Coalition for the Homeless, February 2002:

* Time for a Common Sense Policy on Homelessness:
by Martha R. Burt; Shelter Force Online, March/April 2002 edition (National
Housing Institute); Washington News & Views section:

* What Will It Take To End Homelessness?;
by Martha R. Burt; September 2001:

* NAEH: The Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness;
National Alliance to End Homelessness:

* Affordable Housing: Who Needs Affordable Housing?;
Community Planning & Development; HUD:

* National Housing Trust Fund Campaign:


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