Learn the Facts: Debunking Myths About Homelessness

Homelessness is a largely misunderstood issue in the Bay Area and around the country. If you have not personally been homeless, have a close friend or relative who has been homeless, or worked in an industry that serves the homeless, it’s easy to believe in the myths about homelessness. Here are five of the most common and why they are largely untrue.

Myth #1: Most Homeless Individuals Are Men

When most of us think of a homeless individual, a middle-aged man usually comes to mind. However, the truth is that 60% of homeless individuals in the Bay Area are female. What’s even more troubling is that 16% of homeless individuals are under the age of 18. The face of homelessness is not limited to males. There are women, children, and families who also need help.

Myth #2: Homeless Individuals Want to Live on the Street

Many of us believe that if homeless individuals didn’t want to live on the street, they could simply go to a homeless shelter. However, many homeless individuals either cannot get into a shelter because it is full or do not want to deal with shelter issues such as big crowds or being separated from their loved ones or pets. Though they may not want to live on the street, this is sometimes the only option.

Myth #3: It’s Easy to Get a Job and Get Off the Street

The majority of homeless individuals are fighting an addiction, mental illness, physical impairment, or other issue that makes it difficult for them to hold down a regular job. If they have been homeless for any length of time, they also face the obstacles of adequate clothing and cleanliness, not to mention the barriers of reliable transportation. While getting a job may seem simple to those of us who have adequate homes and resources, it’s simply not that easy for the homeless.

Myth #5: Most Homeless Individuals Are Drug Addicts

Do you automatically assume that every homeless person you see is addicted to drugs or alcohol? In actuality, only 25% of homeless individuals have a substance abuse problem. Mental illness affects over 30% of homeless individuals and many others are on the streets due to a physical disability, chronic health issue, or developmental disability.

Myth #5: There Is Nothing I Can Do to Help End Homelessness

Homelessness can seem like such an overwhelming problem that most people think there is nothing they can do on an individual basis to help. However, if everyone simply donated an hour of time or $10 a week to help end homelessness, it would make an enormous impact. Every donation of time, talent, goods, or money puts a dent in the crisis and everyone can help.

Now that you know more about what homelessness is really about, you can learn more ways that you can help. For more information, please visit our website.