Myths About Homeless

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Christina Limbaugh
Homelessness
There are several myths related to the poor and poverty in America. American’s tend to place the blame of homelessness on individuals rather than situations or state of society. Homeless and poor people are often thought of as lazy people, who are able, and choose not to work. Americans also have this belief that the homeless are all on drugs or alcohol. If they aren’t on drugs and/or alcohol, they must be crazy. They are also thought of as uneducated, troublesome people. “One writer has described them as the ‘drunk, the addicted, and the just plain shiftless’; the implication is that most of the homeless could do better for themselves if they really wanted to”(Wright J. 2009, pg. 1). In reality, homeless and poor people are like any other population in our society; they come in all sexes, age, race, ethnicity, backgrounds, beliefs, and health. James Wright (2009), states, “In truth, all off these stereotypes are true of some homeless people, and none of them are true of all homeless people” (pg. 2). Many homeless people work very hard, and still can’t afford rent. The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) (2009), inform us, 44% of homeless people have jobs (Employment and Homelessness). This number would likely be higher if “under the table” or “off the books” work could be accounted for, such as collecting cans and metal or quick work (Culhane, 2010). Of those who can’t work, many are physically disabled or have poor mental health. While, “22% of Americans suffer from a mental illness, only a small percentage of the 44 million people who have a serious mental illness are homeless” (National Institute of Mental Health, as cited by Faces of Homelessness). So mental illness does not cause homelessness. Still it is true that there are many homeless people that suffer from poor mental health, from depression to more severe illness. However, “…most can live in the community with the appropriate supportive housing options...
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