In Nomadland, which won Best Picture at the Oscars a few weeks ago, Frances McDormand’s character Fern corrects someone who labels her ‘homeless’: “I’m not homeless,” she says. “I’m just houseless.”
Her line reminded me of when, a few years ago, I first heard the term “housing insecurity.” I must admit, it took me awhile to figure out what the term meant, exactly. Did even buildings now come with self-esteem issues? Eventually I connected the term with homelessness, but it still seemed like splitting hairs. I could grasp that people who were struggling to find a place to live didn’t want to be lumped into a faceless group defined by what they lack, just as Fern in Nomadland rejects the term to describe her own life on the road. But the term still didn’t fully click with me.