10 MYTHS ABOUT HOMELESSNESS
- It can’t happen to me or my family.
People end up on the streets for any number of reasons and come from all walks of life. Unemployment, substance abuse, relationship breakdown, lack of a support system, domestic violence, mental health issues. All these things can push a person into being homeless and vulnerable.
- Homeless people choose to be homeless and could get off the streets if they wanted to.
Life on the street is a constant struggle for survival. Why would anyone choose such a brutish existence? Constantly worrying about where to sleep safely, how to stay warm, where to find food, where to wash? The lack of affordable housing plus lack of a permanent address are huge barriers to an easy solution
- Most homeless people are addicts or mentally ill.
There is a vicious circle. Many people suffering from a mental illness, substance abuse or a combination of the two, can recover given supportive housing and treatment. Without this their chances of improvement are greatly reduced.
- Homeless people are lazy. They should get a job.
Many homeless people struggle to survive and are insecure which presents a huge barrier to getting a job. There are others that seek work but without a permanent address find it difficult to get past the first hurdle.
- If I give money directly to the homeless they will waste it on drugs and alcohol.
This may be the case in some situations, and it is a difficult but personal choice when deciding to give directly to a homeless person. Another option is to make a donation to a charity that supports the homeless and vulnerable.
- Providing food and shelter to the homeless only enables them
It only enables them to survive, and can also provide an opportunity to meet with people who care and can offer additional support.
- Homeless people are dangerous
The truth is we are more of a threat to them than they are to us. They are already struggling and vulnerable, and in in a powerless situation. Sometimes there may be an overreaction to some situations, but very rarely do they do any harm.
- Most homeless people live on the streets
Although there are homeless people that have been forced to live on the streets, there are many more that do not have a stable home. They may be ‘sofa surfing’ i.e. doubling up with friends or family in a space that is less than ideal, sleeping in a car, a hostel, emergency shelters, on public transport, or in a tent.
- Most homeless people are older single men
Even if this were true it would still be a desperate situation. However, now there are many more younger people of both sexes that do not have a stable home.
- Homelessness and poverty will always be with us
We must always strive to push for more supportive policies and listen to charities that work with the vulnerable and homeless to understand better what we can do to ease this challenging situation.