Despite homelessness being on the rise, education and awareness about the issue isn’t.
Since we cannot solve a problem we don’t understand, it’s a good idea to define what being homeless actually means.
Having no home…shelter, or place of refuge owing to poverty or destitution; living on the streets.
Unfortunately, there are more than just two reasons for an individual to find themselves without a home.
It’s hard to implement solutions when there’s so much stigma surrounding homeless people. Therefore, busting myths and misconceptions surrounding the issue is the first step in reducing and hopefully, ending it for good.
People choose to be homeless.
Most of the men, women, and children on the streets do not choose to be homeless. Many don’t have a choice. Reasons such as unemployment, domestic violence, along with (mental, emotional, and physical) health problems are some prevalent causes. Nobody wants to lose their job unexpectedly. No one decides they want to suffer from depression. Similarly, many individuals do not choose to be without shelter every day.
Other people will help the homeless so I don’t have to.
That’s exactly what Jack Layton, former city councillor of Toronto, thought while walking home one day with his wife. He “assumed, somehow, that others would step in” while writing on the death of a homeless man. In his book Homelessness: The Making and Unmaking of a Crisis, Layton describes the issue in more depth. The Globe and Mail also provided a book excerpt on their website, in which he tells his story of one particular January night in Toronto. During the walk home, Jack Layton doesn’t call for help or directly assist a homeless person who’s in need. He thinks someone else will do something for the people on the streets in the dead of winter. To be fair, he expresses earlier that he had no idea who to contact and how to reach legitimate help. If everyone thought someone else will lend a hand, no one ends up offering any assistance.
All homeless people are criminals.
Interestingly enough, some homeless people are victims of crimes. Since they live on the streets rather than in a shelter, they are at a greater risk.
In “Death on the streets of Canada“, the writer argues that:
…shelter is also a human right.
Cathy Crowe, Rabble