Saturday, July 1, 2017

Definition: All But Homeless


I am sometimes guilty of using my own sub-language, or jargon. I think most writers do at one time or another. Its hard to get a new word or term defined and accepted but the Germans, or those who speak the Germanic languages do not care. They create and use compound words with speed and facility.

Sidewalk, rocketship, doorknob, jailbait, idiot-sh*t-for-brains, etc.

I have needed a term for someone who is essentially but not quite homeless for quite a while.

If “homeless” refers to someone who is chronically unemployed and does not have the money, or for some reason the capability, to have a place to sleep, to take a shower, to keep their stuff, and to cook a meal, we call that person homeless.

I define “all-but-homeless” as someone who would be homeless, except that their friends or family is putting them up somewhere.

This might be “couch surfing”, but couch surfing has a different feeling to it. “Couch surfing” suggests someone who is 20 something and who is able to mooch on a friend for a week or a month while they are looking for work. It has a healthy, youthful feel to it. It does not suggest the helplessness of homelessness.

An “all-but-homeless” person is someone who has tried for years to make a living, who has learned new skills, worked hard, is older than is trendy, but still cant figure out how to pay the rent. He or she is now a burden on their friends or family or both but doesnt want to be and is somewhat ashamed of it.

They are certainly better off than a “homeless” person but they are far from living a healthy, actualized life. They can not travel, can not afford medical care, can not afford new clothes, can not afford to go to conferences or go on vacation. They are in a prison of poverty and can not work their way out. Maybe they are a victim of their own decisions, maybe they have a disability whether acknowledged or unacknowledged, maybe they are a victim of government policies, maybe they are just unlucky, or maybe it is a combination of some of these or something else entirely. They are certainly better off than someone who is homeless, but that is about all you can say about it.


  1. Paul Erdős offered another model of not having a home.

  2. Erdos (very impressed you were able to get the little punctuation mark on top of the "o") also had colleagues who were willing to collaborate with him, and to make their homes available. My friends are not the least bit interested in doing either. In fact, if they would collaborate with me, I would be able to show new work and probably be employed.