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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Myths, Misconceptions and Reality

Many goodly-type Americans often maintain misconceptions about the homeless. Here is a list of the top ten homelessness myths, paired with some facts.

  1. They are all men. – For many, the word “homeless” conjures up images of scraggly men standing on street corners holding cardboard signs. Today, that image is simply not reality: the face of homelessness has changed. In fact, the fastest growing segments of the homeless population are women and families with children.

  2. They are all lazy. – A sad reality facing many homeless individuals and families is that even if they work, their income cannot sustain them. As a matter of fact, the majority of homeless people are working or actively looking for work, and yet remain homeless. For instance, in a city like Orlando, Florida, where the service industry accounts for 40% of jobs, the resulting wage is only $8 per hour with limited benefits. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Orlando requires an hourly wage of nearly $18.00, making it almost impossible for a couple to afford, even with both working 40 hours per week at $8 per hour.

  3. Homelessness is a one-issue problem. – Many believe that the homeless “just need to get a job” to fix their situation. If only addressing the needs of the homeless was this easy! The reality is contributors to homelessness can include low wages, lack of affordable rental housing, job loss or underemployment, lack of health care, domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health issues.

  4. They are all from someplace else. – Again, taking Orlando, Florida as an example, Eighty-three percent of the homeless individuals interviewed had lived in the area for one year or longer, showing that many started out as typical Central Florida residents. The majority were living in the Central Florida area when they became homeless.

  5. Build it and they will come. – Constructing a new facility does not “attract” new homeless people to an area. They are already there. In a city like Los Angeles, California, for instance, the homeless population since 2005 has consistently remained at about 75,000 individuals.

  6. Ignore the problem and it will go away. – According to recent state, local and federal statistics, the number of homeless families with children increased dramatically the past few years since the start of the recession. The economy woes and its real human casualties have no apparent end in site.

  7. Services provided are a hand-out. – Many homeless individuals need a hand up, not a hand-out. Although for the moment they need hydration, food, clothing and shelter. Long-term they need job training, educational opportunities, health care, mental health counseling, and life skills like budgeting and savings in order to assure self-sufficiency.

  8. It is a lifestyle choice. – In one study, 84% of those interviewed listed issues such as employment, housing, disabilities, family problems, forced relocation, natural disasters, and recent immigration as the cause of their current state of homelessness. These individuals did not choose to be homeless and are trying desperately to return to self-sufficiency.

  9. God is on the side of people who work for a living. - “For thus says he who is high and exalted, living eternally, whose name is the Holy One: On high I dwell, and in holiness, and with the crushed and dejected in spirit, To revive the spirits of the dejected, to revive the hearts of the crushed.” Isaiah 57:15

  10. It will never happen to me. – Don’t believe homelessness can happen to anyone? According to federal statistics, the majority of Americans income to credit card debt ratios, most are a just a pay check or two away from homelessness. This scenario is most likely in the case of an unforeseen emergency such as a natural disaster, major health problem or accident.

  • Has something been missed that you think should be added to the list? Feel free to share your own myths about homelessness by clicking on comments below!

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  • Contact us:

  • Donate! To the poor homeless at or post checks to - Servants of the Father of Mercy, Inc., P.O. Box 42001, Los Angeles, CA 90042. All Donations are Tax Deductible.

1 comment:

newguy40 said...

That is a pretty good list and I'm going to save it for future reference.

I wonder if you saw a story by John (?) Stossel on Fox News about the homeless? It was one of his "Freeloader" segments. My gosh, when I got done watching it, I momentarily felt like even the small things I do to help, were worse than useless. In fact, I'd be the fool to continue with them. Anyway... with some prayer those thoughts of mine passed. But, I suspect for many who viewed that show, they ended up feeling ripped off and put upon. I did send the reporter and email asking him to be more fair and present some other points of viewed. I haven't heard back from him. :(