This week’s series focuses on myths about homelessness. There’s a lot of misunderstanding about issues related to homelessness, which contributes to stigma and judgement against those who experience the realities of homelessness.
Myth #1: People are Homeless by Choice
Truth: People experience homelessness for a wide variety of reasons, a good number of which are often beyond a person’s control. Some reasons include contributing factors such as sudden job loss, injury, mental illness, addiction, or family breakdown.
Myth #2: It Will Never Happen to Me
Truth: There are a number of individuals who believe certain situations cannot affect their living standards. Such situations can happen at any time and take a toll on anyone and leave them unsheltered. Contributing factors to homelessness, such as sudden job loss, injury, mental illness, family breakdown, or other unexpected circumstances, can affect anyone.
Myth #3: Homeless People Need to Get a Job
Truth: Individuals experiencing homelessness are often struggling with addiction, mental illness, physical impairments, or other issues that make it difficult for them to hold down a typical job.
Myth #4: Homeless People are Dangerous
Truth: Homelessness is often associated with drugs, alcohol, violence, and crime. Life on the streets can be perilous for those experiencing homeless, leaving them vulnerable and at risk of harm.
Myth #5: They’re Addicted to Drugs and Alcohol
Truth: Actually, about 25% of individuals experiencing homelessness have a substance use problem. Diagnosed mental illness affects over 50% of homeless individuals.
Myth #6: All Homeless Shelters are the Same
Truth: There are many different types of shelters. Some have the mandate to work with people only once they are in recovery from addiction, some work with people throughout their addiction, others focus on working with women fleeing domestic violence, and others provide services to the 2SLGBTQIA+ community or focus on providing services to youth only.
Myth #7: Homeless People are Usually Old, Single Men
Truth: Although there are many single men among the homeless population, the fastest-growing population of people experiencing homelessness are families.
Myth #8: Homeless People Don’t Have Families
Truth: Yes, they do. Those experiencing homelessness come from diverse backgrounds and many different types of family settings. Many of them have families who love and care about them, the same as anyone else.
Myth #9: They Don’t Need Internet Access
Truth: Free and easy access to Wi-Fi is one of the things that make life bearable for people experiencing homelessness. From their phones, they can gain online access to stay in touch with their friends and loved ones, access news and other information, and apply for jobs.
Myth #10: You Can’t End Homelessness
Truth: Homelessness is a complex social issue that has deep roots in society. With hard work from many different angles such as government, communities, and individuals, it is possible to end homelessness, but we all need to work together to make this happen.