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Myths & Facts

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Homeless-myths500x375One of the challenges convincing governments, individuals and businesses to take positive action to help end homelessness is the uninformed and outdated opinions regarding homelessness. Here is a list of commons myths and facts.

 

 

Homeless-myths500x375One of the challenges convincing governments, individuals and businesses to take positive action to help end homelessness is the uninformed and outdated opinions regarding homelessness. Here is a list of commons myths and facts.

 

Myth: People choose to be homeless

Fact: There is no evidence to support this idea. When homeless individuals are provided with permanent housing through the Housing First Approach, the success rate for people staying stably housed is in the 80 to 90 per cent range. Also, their are often a combination of factors that lead to first becoming homeless, such as family breakdown, abuse, trauma, disability, addictions, illness and poverty.
Being homeless is unsafe and those who experience chronic homelessness are vulnerable. There are many stresses and difficulties associated with becoming and remaining homeless. Chronically homeless or "street-entrenched" individuals adapt to homelessness and can appear to be making a choice to remain homeless. Lookout outreach workers spend a great deal of time with these individuals building trust so they feel comfortable seeking help, shelter and housing.

 

Myth: There can't be a homeless crisis because I don't see that many living on the streets and in parks

Fact: There could be as many as 400,000 homeless individuals in Canada. Many are hidden homeless, those with no secure home, who may stay temporarily with friends or family (couch surfing), in motels, cars or in shelters. Among the overall homeless population, very few "sleep rough" in parks or on the streets.

 

Myth: Many homeless people are criminals

Fact: Surveys indicate that roughly half of all those who are homeless have been victims of crime. Because homelessness individuals live exposed on the streets, they can be many times more at risk of crime than the general population.

 

Myth: Homeless people all live on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside

Fact: Every community in Canada has a homeless population. Individuals do not migrate to the Downtown Eastside when they become homeless. Instead, most individuals choose to stay in their own neighbourhoods where they feel safe and have friends. This points to the need for services, shelters and affordable housing in every community. Unfortunately many elected officials in municipalities believe that allowing services and programs in their communities will attract a larger homeless population.

 

Myth: Homeless people are adult men and have a mental illness

Fact: While it is true that men make up the majority of homeless, recent counts and surveys show that is changing. Seniors, women and youth are the fastest growing groups among Metro Vancouver's homeless population. Mental illness is one of the leading causes of homelessness but recent studies have shown individuals began to suffer from a mental illness as a result of the stress, victimization and social isolation inherant to homelessness.

 

Myth: Homelessness can not be solved

Fact: Many areas have proved otherwise by investing in programs that get people into homes where they supported with self-improvement programs. Recently, Vancouver has reduced its homeless population while American cities such as San Diego and San Antonio have done the same. It's generally agreed that three things are needed to end homelessness: an adequate income, affordable housing and programs that help people get back on their feet.