Bill Becker

Myths about Homelessness

I was going to write my own post about homelessness myths but came across this one from a research institute in Canada. I do have a few opinions and comments to add (not a surprise if you know me). We will start with the first one on the list, the one that always will get a furious response from me…

  • Myth: People choose to be homeless – I firmly believe not everyone who says this actually believes it. It’s easier to blame someone for their own circumstances so you don’t have to feel guilty about yours (or for not helping). I mean come on! NO ONE chooses to live under a bridge or in a tent out of the street.
  • Myth: There are plenty of adequate services and supports to help those experiencing homelessness – As the article states, a lot of services are focused on emergency response. One of the first things I learned when I started this journey is most cities have funds for transitional housing to get people off the street. The problem is the lack of “units” (apartments, motels, etc.) that those funds can be used to house individuals and families.

United to End Homelessness also put together some great videos on each of the common myths about homelessness.

To show you the issues are universal, here is a similar article from Australia. One of the points in that article highlights it’s not just men who are homeless. Women and children (including those actually attending school) make up a significant portion of the homeless population.

Most people associate homelessness with highly dense populations (New York City, San Francisco, etc.) but there’s virtually no homelessness in one of the world’s densest and most populated cities, Tokyo. Japan figured it out. So can everyone else.