Satisfying the Indispensable Needs of Humans
By: Issiah Byrd

      Every human has fundamental needs necessary for a healthy lifestyle.  This paper tries to define these necessary requirements of life.  It also talks about the individuals who are lacking some of life’s basic needs and how they came to this state of living.  The paper also talks about the affect that technology has made on some people’s lives.  In conclusion, if gives a suggested solution to the problem of homelessness that can also help everyone.


      The problem of homelessness spreads across all different nationalities, racial groups, ages, and genders.  The reasons people become homeless are just as diverse as the people.  But one common trait among them is the fact that these people are all lacking some basic human needs.  These essential needs include more than the obvious needs such as food, water, shelter, and clothing; humans also have emotional and spiritual needs that need to be satisfied.  Some people with an abundance of material objects and are still not content with their life, because they are not fulfilling the emotional or spiritual needs of the soul.  With the advancement of technology, is it making life easier to provide for these basic needs or is it making the problem worst?  The question is difficult to answer.  In some matters technology is improving life, while in others it is making living more troublesome.  With the growth of knowledge, some people are neglecting the spiritual needs of humans.  In order to move the homeless off the streets, the physical and spiritual needs must be fulfilled.  By implementing technology to satisfy these two main needs, homelessness can be an object of the past. 

Basic Human Needs

      Each person on the streets has different individual needs that are not being fulfilled.  The requirements of human satisfaction can be classified into different categories ranging from financial to emotional fulfillment.  Pleasing the fundamental needs of humans goes deeper than just obtaining financial wealth.  Milton Meltzer, a biographer and historian who graduated from Columbia University, quotes writer, Peter Townsend saying “the poor are poor because they lack not just cash income, but legal services, public amenities, basic human respect, and so on”  (Meltzer 12).  Besides lacking income, they also are deprived of the feelings that more fortunate people take for granted each day: self worth, feeling of accomplishment, relaxation, and boredom—when a person can sit down and have nothing to do.  According to The Institute for Management Excellence, the basic needs of human beings can be divided into nine categories:
      1.) Security – the need to feel safe, to feel assured that they know what is going to 
           happen, to know ahead of time what the plans are. 
      2.) Adventure – the need for an adrenaline rush, to have new experiences, to travel, 
           have BIG experiences, to have drama in their life, to have a sense of anticipation 
           about upcoming events.
      3.) Freedom – the need for independence and spontaneity.  It is also the need to have 
           choices and to feel in control of making those choices.
      4.) Exchange – the need to trade information and knowledge with others, not just to 
           mingle or socialize, but to deliver and receive something of value.
      5.) Power – the need to be in a position of authority and responsibility.
      6.) Expansion – the need to build something, to add onto, to create an empire, to 
           expand horizons, to go where no one has gone before.
      7.) Acceptance – the need to accept yourself and be accepted by others.  This includes a 
           feeling of belonging.
      8.) Community – the need to have people around for support, comfort, warmth, and love.
      9.) Expression  - the need to be artistic, to be seen, to be heard, to be felt.  It is the 
           need to express oneself through words, speech, actions, dress, art and self-creations 
           of all types.  (Nine Basic Human Needs)

Positive Aspects of Technology

      Although technology is capable of fulfilling many of the fundamental needs described above, it is out of the reach to those that it could benefit the most—either from lack of education or available access.  For example, with the use of the Internet the poor could fill all nine of the human basic needs to some extent.  They would be able to express themselves by either sending personal poems to website or creating their own personal website to display their artistic abilities.  With the use of AOL Instant Messenger or other chat programs they would be able to exchange useful wisdom with people all around the world.  From all the available information on the Internet, they would be able to expand their mind farther than they could have imagined.  When the mind is expanded and knowledge is gained, power follows.  The Internet also provides adventure as a person can explore different parts of the world online.  Acceptance is a large part of the Internet.  A person can find an online chat room that inhabits people with similar interests, beliefs, and dispositions.  Philip Elmer-DeWitt, the senior editor for TIME magazine, makes a point that “stripped of the external trappings of wealth, power, beauty and social status, people tend to be judged in the cyberspace of the Internet only by their ideas and their ability to get them across in terse, vigorous prose” (Dewitt 8).   Technology has created an environment in which people can cater to their emotional needs, but the problem is that it is out of the reach of those that can benefit the most from it.  Technology helps some people get back on their feet, while at the same time knocking others down. 

Education and Jobs

      The individuals that suffer the most from the advancement of technology are those with an insufficient education.   William Julius Wilson, a past president of the American Sociological Association, feels that the public school system in America was designed to give low-income students “basic literacy and numeracy skills required for routine work in mass production factories, service industries, or farms,” and now the jobs that were available for people with only a high school education are being taken by “highly skilled designers, engineers, and operators” who are needed to develop more productive systems (Wilson 151-152).  This is making a high school diploma worthless.  Technology is robbing the people that cannot afford a good education.  Jerome Segal, a philosopher at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Affairs, makes people aware that “one hundred years ago, free education provided you with a viable point of entry into the economy.  Today, it provides access to very little” (Segal 37).  The majority of jobs available for people with only a high school education are those that require routine work such as fast food restaurants, convenience stores, etc.  The only way that people can make a substantial amount of money is by spending a substantial amount of money on a college education.  “Today, access to most interesting work requires a college education, and often an advanced degree.  Costs reach 30,000 per year” (Segal 37).  What about those that initially lack sufficient funds? What about those that lack a decent education?  It is difficult to get accepted into selective schools, which most of the time offers a better learning experience, if a person does not have a decent education to begin.  In general, a person needs a high-quality education in order to get a supportive job to pay for the increasing costs of basic needs. 

The Increasing of Cost of Living

      The costs of some fundamental needs are decreasing, but at the same time the costs of others are increasing.  When the price of one item decreases, the price of another items must increase in order to maintain an economical balance.  Jerome Segal states, “in 1900, food and clothing constituted 56% of the household budget; today it is 20%.  Meanwhile, costs for housing, transportation, health care, education and child care have increased” (Segal 37).  According to Segal, the price of housing is increasing in some poor neighborhoods because of a process called gentrification, in which landlords are turning low-cost housing facilities into high-cost dwelling units for the middle and upper classes.  This forces people living in inexpensive housing onto the street, because they have no other options.  (Segal 37).  Another necessity that has increased in cost is transportation.  Segal says, “one hundred years ago transportation represented 3% of the household budget.  Today the figure is 19%.  We have built a suburbanized society with extremely limited public transportation.  A car is a necessity in most areas—families with two wage earners generally need two of them” (Segal 37).  People in poverty have to cut back on some of their flexible basic needs in order to take care of urgent responsibilities.  For instance, the price of transportation and housing is a fixed amount, when a family is in need of money one of the first necessities to be cut back is food. 

Physical and Emotional Stress

      When a person is deprived of food, physical and emotional problems arise.  Food and water are the most urgent needs necessary for existing.  Milton Meltzer, in his book Poverty in America, quotes Dr. Robert Coles of the Harvard University Health Services when he says that when the body is deprived of necessary nourishment it “is slowly, in a sense, consuming itself” (Meltzer 16).  During the times when a person’s body is starving for food, how can an individual worry about anything else?  The first responsibility of the human is to take care of the body.  If the body is constantly burdened, it causes a tremendous amount of stress.  The stress created by hunger goes deeper than just physical; it also affects the mind.  Meltzer says, “Hunger exerts a harmful stress on its victims.  The poor feel the strain of constantly scrambling for food.  The shame a man or woman experiences over the inability to provide for his or her family adds a terrible burden that increases the physical damage done by poverty” (Meltzer 21).  Mental stress is a lot more harmful than physical stress.   The stress of the mind can drive people to do things they ordinary would not consider—like commit suicide.  Meltzer talks about a jobless farm equipment worker who seriously considered suicide, because he could not tolerate the fact that he was unable to feed his kids  (Meltzer 21).  This worker felt a sense of worthlessness.  He had a responsibility and he was not able to take care of it. Just from the lack of food, he was feeling a lack of power or control over his life.  His freedom and acceptance of himself was taken away. As one human basic need is deprived, the remaining needs also begin to suffer.  The physical and emotional aspects of existence must be taken care of in order to have a healthy life. 


      The primary need that can provide for both the physical and emotional aspect of the human body is spirituality.  When a person has a relationship with a supreme being (God) it gives them a sense of hope and purpose.  With this sense of purpose and meaning, they are more motivated to attack the world because they know they have support from the Creator of all things.  Technology can help emotional problems to some extent, but there is still a void in the life of the homeless that can only be filled with the love of God.   He does not discriminate against anyone.  That is a positive thing, since homelessness affects everyone.   As stated by Meltzer, the homeless ”… are white, black, Hispanic, Native American, and foreign-born.  They are people in trouble, victims of job layoffs, of greedy landlords, of cold bureaucrats, or of their own addictions or personality disorders.  They are abused wives and cast-off children, evicted families, lonely old people” (Meltzer 22).   God is different from man and technology, because He has the ability to change a person from the inside and then clean them up on the outside.  God will only come into a person’s life if they let Him.  Christ says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation 3:20).  This means that God wants to come into the lives of every person, but He will not help anyone if they do not accept Him.  He wants to make life better for everyone, but they have to believe in Him.  Christ says,  “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (John 10:10).  Another way that spirituality can help the homeless is that it will give them hope for the future.  By reading the Bible, they will find out that while they are suffering now, in the end they will be comforted.  Christ makes it clear when He says, “Blessed are you who are poor for yours is the kingdom of God. / Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. / Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh” (Luke 6:20-21).   Christ is the answer to the problems of the homeless.  Technology can help solve some problems.  But God has authority over the whole world and everything in it. One of Jesus’ apostles, Paul says, “For by him [God] all things were created:  things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.  He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16).  Spirituality provides an incredible amount of help, guidance and comfort to those that have nothing and even to those that have wealth.


      Homelessness is a problem that everyone faces.  It is a problem that has so many dimensions that it is difficult to solve.  Individuals become homeless because they are laid off from work, cannot afford housing, addicted to drugs, handicapped, mentally ill, rejected by families and the list goes on and on.  While the people are living on the streets, many of their basic needs are not being satisfied. These needs include both emotional and physical requirements.  Technology has helped cure the problem to some degree, but it has also created new troubles by forcing people out of jobs and increasing the cost of living.  The price of food and clothing is decreasing, but the cost transportation, housing, health care, and etc. are all dramatically increasing.  Without a decent job or education, people are not able to satisfy all of their fundamental needs.  The answer to the problem homelessness is through the belief in God.  He created all things and has control over everything.  He wants to help the poor and the needy, but they have to call out to Him with faith and belief.  Jesus says, “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22).  In order to beat homeless, God is needed. Unlike the Internet or any other form of technology, He is accessible twenty-four hours a day to any and everyone that calls His name.  Joel, one of the prophets in the Bible, says, “… everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  This salvation is not only from eternal death, but also from the daily problems of life. 


1. Wilson, William J. When Work Disappears – The World of the New Urban Poor. New 
          York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1996.

2. Meltzer, Milton.  Poverty in America. New York: William Morrow & Co., Inc., 1986

3. Segal, Jerome M. “Achieving the Good Life.” Dollars & Sense July-August 1999: 37 Online. Gale. 
          Expanded Academic ASAP. A55307048. 18 April 2000

4. The Nine Basic Human Needs. June 1997.  The Institute for Management Excellence.  22 April 2000. 

5. Elmer-DeWitt, Philip.  “Welcome to Cyberspace.” Literacy, Technology, and Society: Confronting the 
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