5 Things People Get Wrong About Homelessness

U.S. NEWS 12/15/2018 08:00 am ET by Sarah Ruiz-Grossman

No, people who are houseless don’t all live on the street, and the vast majority are not addicts or mentally ill, either.

Homelessness affects hundreds of thousands of Americans on any given day, and yet many people still perpetuate wrong and at times harmful stereotypes about those struggling to access housing.

Last year, more than 500,000 people were homeless across the country on a given night in January, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While there’s been a decline in the number of homeless Americans over the last decade, last year saw the first increase in recent years, per the HUD report.

The issue is getting notably worse in certain areas, as the country’s affordable housing crisis makes it harder for people to afford rent in big cities, and even small cities and some rural areas.

New York City, for instance, reached a record high for homelessness in 2017, with an average of 63,495 people sleeping in the city’s shelters each night, according to nonprofit Coalition for the Homeless. Three-quarters of those in shelters were families, including 23,600 children.

Myth 1: Most homeless people live on the streets.

Myth 2: Most homeless people are mentally ill.

Myth 3: Most homeless people are addicts

Myth 4: Homeless people just need to get a job

Myth 5: It’s their fault they’re homeless.

Click here to read a fact check on some all-too-common and harmful stereotypes about people who are homeless.