Stereotypes of why the Homeless are Homeless

In the modern world, there are numerous myths and stereotypes on the “homeless population.” Stereotypes and Myths about the homeless are due to misconceptions caused by ignorance, overgeneralizations from one experience, and minimal access to the real facts. Since the homeless population is frequently referred to “the invisible people,” it is reasonable why these stereotypes and myths develop and why they continue. However, these myths and stereotypes may be challenged by the real facts and broken down by individuals willing to take a new look at what they thought they knew. Most of us think the problem of homelessness is related social problems such as stereotypical skid row bums, drug addiction, and possibly the mentally sick living on the footpaths begging for money from passerby. According to Letiecq, not all people who are homeless live on the streets, some of them can be staying with a friend or a family member, someone lives in overcrowded places, someone lives in poor conditions which are harmful to their health, and someone stays away from their family members because of certain circumstances. Homelessness can affect or can be a person from all walks of life, both female and male, from all ages, races and cultural setting, homelessness doesn’t discriminate(Letiecq, Anderson, & Koblinsky, 1996 pg. 269). Approximately 25% of the homeless population comprises of people under the age of 18. Additionally in every 40 women between the age of 18 and 24 one of them is homeless. According to Williams, due to the high cost of housing in the United States, most youths are homeless to the lack of employment or presence of proper shelter. Hence homelessness among the young adults is a major social problem in the United States of American. It can be as a result of events such as runaways, throwaways, and street youth. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, homelessness is not a new social problem it has always been present in our communities. In the recent years, this social problem has grown to become more and more severe issue over the years. The National Coalition for the Homeless of United States define homeless is any individual who lacks or cannot be able to afford a house to stay in (2008). They are also referred to as “unaccompanied” youth (National Coalition for the Homeless, 2008). Homelessness of the youths and the underage kid is a very severe issue since these age groups are at greater risk because of the higher rates of vulnerability due to the cultural and background setting associated with their lifestyle. United States perception of the homeless is based on various myths and stereotypes which affect the process of helping the needy. These misconceptions are very dangerous since they interfere with helping those in need. Hence to help and solve the homelessness issue we must first stop these myths and stereotypes about the homelessness. One of the most common myths is that all homeless individuals are drug addicts and alcoholics. Less than a half of the homeless adults in the United States are currently struggling with drug addiction or have struggled with addiction or alcoholism in the past. The rest of the population does not have any alcohol or drug addiction problem. Consequently, most drugs in the United States are costly for the homeless to afford. The second misconception is that all homeless individuals are mentally ill or have mental health disorders, hence creating a belief that all homeless people should be referred to psychiatric centers rather than receiving help. Additionally, most people associate homelessness with mental illness due to violent activities is done by the homelessness communities. Statistics show that approximately 30 to 35% of the homeless population in the United States has a mental health illness. However, it’s only the 25% the homeless individuals suffer from the serious mental disorder. Individuals with mental health disorder are at a great risk of suffering from one of the three reasons which may cause them to be homeless; these factors include unemployment, poverty, divorce and personal vulnerability. Also, homelessness may intensify the mental health disorder, through the stress of lacking a home or having poor housing may cause deepening of previous mental disorders which cause anxiety, insomnia, drug consume and depression. Another misconception about the homeless is that all homeless people are too lazy to work. Individualism makes most people believe that the homeless individuals do not deserve the helped since they are considered responsible for their condition. Research shows that more than a half of homeless individuals in the United States are unemployed. However, this does not mean they are all lazy. Most of them might have lost their employment by no fault of their own or because of injury, age, illness or disability. Additionally, individual that meets the required condition to work experience numerous barriers which hinder them from being employed. These misconceptions and stereotypes of the homeless make companies not to trust the homeless into giving them a job. On the other hand, some people sleep on the streets, and they are employed. This is because they do not achieve the required requirements to buy or rent an apartment or they earn very little to do it. Most real estate companies or house owners demand their tenants should have an income which is three times more than the monthly rent, hence limiting the low earning citizens. It’s not ethical to judge the homeless since some have become homeless due to life situations which are not a choice. Some of these life situations include disability, illness, and unemployment or gender violence. Homeless Children and adolescents are the most vulnerable groups in this social issue. Approximately 1,5 million of children live in a home annually in the United States. Also, a quarter of the gay adolescent children may be ousted out if their guardians or parents discover their original alignment. Gay and bisexual youths represent about 40% of the gay homeless individuals in the United States. Transsexual teenagers are another risk group which is also likely is expelled from their homes by their parents. Some parents even go ahead to oust their kids out if they engage in sex before marriage or pregnancy, and deficient performance in school work. According Ravenhill, to solve this social issue of homelessness, we must first understand the problem comprehensively. Myths and stereotypes are used to simplify the issue and make people understand its difficulty. Perhaps the main myth is believing and having faith that this issue is solvable. Even though most communities have lived in the streets for decades in the United States, in the last decade there has been great progress. For example, in the last decade the Salt Lake City, Houston o Phoenix, has reduced more than 70% of the homeless population. According to Norman, in analyzing the success of the homeless communities, there is evidence that the main element of reducing the number of the homeless individuals is the same in all situations. The best method of solving the homelessness issue is the use of “Housing First” strategy. In this method, the first step is to help the homeless individual to come out of the homelessness state by acquiring a stable accommodation. This strategy has achieved numerous positive historical outcomes in the society where the plan has been implemented. Traditional methods used to reduce homeless were mainly based on criminalizing the homeless individuals and punishing them. This method has not lead to any positive result. The issue is not the persons and their choices but the circumstances which haven’t been selected.

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Anyone can be homeless regardless of race, sex, and nationality. We should move away from the stereotypes and generalizations of the homeless population to understand better the issues facing them and how to assist them best. It’s easy to judge others; furthermore, the reality is that we frequently don’t know or even bother to know where such people are coming from or what circumstance has led them to the point of being homeless. To solve this social issue of homelessness, we must first understand the problem comprehensively. This will help reduce the number of homeless individuals.

Work cited

Letiecq, Bethany L., Elaine A. Anderson, and Sally A. Koblinsky. “Social support of homeless and permanently housed low-income mothers with young children.”? Family Relations? (1996): 265-272. Ravenhill, Megan.? The culture of homelessness. Routledge, 2016. Vissing, Yvonne.? Out of sight, out of mind: Homeless children and families in small-town America. University Press of Kentucky, 2015. Herring, Chris. “The new logics of homeless seclusion: homeless encampments in America’s west coast cities.”? City & Community? 13.4 (2014): 285-309. Williams, Jean Calterone.? A roof over my head: Homeless women and the shelter industry. University Press of Colorado, 2016. Norman, Trudy, et al. “Taking a leap of faith: Meaningful participation of people with experiences of homelessness in solutions to address homelessness.” (2015).

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Stereotypes Of Why The Homeless Are Homeless. (2018, Dec 17). Retrieved February 1, 2023 , from

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