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  • Writer's pictureChurch@thePark

HOMELESSNESS MYTHS


Where do our opinions about unsheltered people come from? Check out this infographic from the Invisible People website. They conducted a survey of 2,500 people across 16 cities about our views of homelessness.



Our opinions about unsheltered people are going to change based on where we get our information. Unfortunately, the unsheltered people who get the most attention are the ones with the most severe addictions, the most severe mental illnesses, and the ones who are engaging in criminal behavior. The people getting the most attention are the ones that are shaping our opinions.

For many of us, our opinions are based solely on our own negative experiences or interactions.


  • “Leaving a restaurant, a guy asked for my spare change. I offered him my leftovers and he yelled at me. If they were actually hungry, they would take what was offered to them.”

  • “A guy was holding a sign that said ‘Work Wanted’ and so I asked him if he wanted to come do some yard work. He said no. They don’t really want to work. They just want handouts.”

  • “We were getting ready for a baseball game at my son’s school and we found needles in the dugout. Homeless people are all addicts and they don’t care about anyone else.”


What shapes your opinions about this topic? How do your opinions and experiences shape how you talk about solutions? ”While expert discussions point to income and the availability of affordable housing as the central issue in discussions of homelessness, public perceptions don’t always align with the views of experts. Driven by local news stories and what people see on the streets, public discussion centers on a few of the most visible negative consequences of homelessness: mental illness and addiction. Whether discussing the causes of homelessness or solutions to it, many in the public prioritize concerns about addiction and mental health over concerns about housing. While issues of income and affordability are part of the conversation, the visibility of addiction and mental illness give them an outsized role in the public imagination.” “The result is a major gap between the public conversation on homelessness and discussions happening in homelessness policy and research spaces. Effective messaging should work to close that gap, using narratives to move public understanding toward the expert consensus around housing affordability and wages.”

Take a few minutes and read the report from Invisible People.

Another article on Invisible People’s website is called “Why Homelessness Isn’t What It Looks Like.” It ties in with this week’s myth. Here are some excerpts:


“The harsh reality is that homelessness doesn’t look like what it really is. For this reason, because we fail to recognize it in its true sense, homelessness is able to plant itself inside of our unsuspecting communities, ripping apart families and ultimately tearing society down.”


”Here in America, homelessness is a school teacher fleeing from domestic violence at home. Homelessness is a war veteran who just lost a coveted retail job. Homelessness is an orphan aging out of the foster system.”


 

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