There are many false narratives about homelessness, leading people to blame those affected by it for their homelessness. It’s important to know the facts and misconceptions about homelessness and recognize that it’s a complex issue. By understanding the reality of homelessness, we can be better prepared to educate and help those around us.
Here are some misconceptions about homelessness.
1. People choose to be homeless. People can become homeless for a variety of reasons, like unexpected life changes. In Minnesota in 2018, 47% of people experiencing homelessness reported financial reasons, such as being unable to afford rent or necessities or losing a job. Safety problems and domestic abuse can also be a cause. Homelessness is often caused by multiple different factors working together.
2. Homelessness only happens in big cities. In 2019, only 52% of Americans experiencing homelessness lived in the largest 50 cities in the U.S. 18% lived in rural areas.
3. It’s easy to pick yourself up again. Many people experiencing homelessness struggle to find employment, often because of physical health issues, transportation, and access to housing. When they do find employment, it still may not pay enough for them to afford housing.
4. Getting a job will solve all their problems. Many individuals experiencing homelessness are already employed. In Minnesota, it’s estimated that 30% of adults experiencing homelessness are employed, with around 13% working full time. Though employment can help, housing may still be out of reach. On average around the U.S., someone working at the federal minimum wage ($7.25/hour) would need to work over two and a half full-time jobs in order to afford a typical one-bedroom apartment in their area.
5. There’s nothing you can do to help. While you alone may not be able to end homelessness, there’s plenty you and your community can do to help. Educating yourself on the topic. Voting for candidates that prioritize helping individuals who are homeless. Donating or volunteering at organizations that support people experiencing homelessness. Or, by directly supporting homeless individuals!
Guild Empowers People Experiencing Homelessness
At Guild, we understand that homelessness is different for everyone. We meet people where they’re at and deliver person-centered services to help people experiencing homelessness.
Learn more about our housing services.
The 12 Biggest Myths About Homelessness in America, New York University.
Homelessness in Minnesota, Wilder Research.
The 2019 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Out of Reach, National Low-Income Housing Coalition.