Myths and Truths About the Homeless

MYTH: Most homeless people are mentally ill.

TRUTH: Statistically speaking, 20 to 25 percent of the homeless population in the United States suffers from some form of mental illness according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

MYTH: Homeless people are on living on the streets because of poor choices.

TRUTH: The National Coalition to End Homelessness lists the top five causes of homelessness as:
1) Lack of affordable housing
2) Lack of a living wage
3) Domestic violence
4) Medical bankruptcy
5) Mental illness

MYTH: Homeless people are unemployed.

TRUTH: Rising rents and declining wages have put housing out of reach for many workers. Homeless shelters throughout the country house significant numbers of full-time wage earners, illustrating the link between impoverished workers and homelessness.

MYTH: Homeless people are drifters and transients looking for free services.

TRUTH: Homeless people do not typically migrate for services – a fact borne out by numerous studies. When they do move to new areas, it’s usually to look for work, connect with family in the area, or other reasons not related to services.

MYTH: Homeless people are mostly single men.

 TRUTH: Single males have historically dominated the ranks of the homeless, but recent trends show women and families as a large and growing percentage of the homeless population. Homeless families now make up about one third of the total homeless population.