|Misconceptions About the Homeless
I often hear or read statements about the homeless that are misleading,
halfway true, and often outrageous nonsense. These are some of them.
Panhandlers are homeless.
It's a common conception that if you see someone panhandling (begging) that they must be
homeless. Actually, most frequent panhandlers are not homeless. For many it's just an easy
way to get money, often for drugs.
Of the homeless I have been familiar with, very few will panhandle regularly. Some will when
they haven't been able to make any money on day-labor jobs for a while, and then just to get
a few bucks. There are those who panhandle as a profession, making over a hundred dollars
a day, and therefore don't have to live on the street.
I saw one article that stated that 90% of the homeless [in that city] panhandled. That's an
easy conclusion if you make the assumption that all the panhandlers you see are homeless. I
may see two panhandlers a day, while there are thousands of homeless in the area where I
live. Most homeless people don't degrade themselves by begging.
park Kiev apartments
The government or charitable crganizations will help them if they only ask.
Government funding is limited, and that is even more true with private organizations.
Donations for private organizations that try to help the homeless has been spread out even
thinner in recent years. With people losing their homes from hurricanes and floods, and the
current economy, an increasing number of people are homeless.
Charities have been having to turn away more people in recent years. Where I live there isn't
shelter space for even 10% of those in need. Simply getting shoes to wear is difficult.
It' not unusual either for local city governments to come up with new restrictions aimed at
closing down soup-kitchens and other assistance specifically to run the homeless out of town
(and into someone elses jurisdiction).
They should be put in mental institutions.
It's true that perhaps a third of homeless people have some type of mental problems, some
significant enough to prevent them from keeping a job or dealing with common life situations.
A significant percentage of the general population also have mental problems, they just can
afford to stay in housing. Many do get help on an outpatient basis but still can't afford
housing or maintain adequate work.
Legally, only those who are a threat to themselves or others can be forced into mental care
institutions. The days when anyone acting strange was locked up are long over.
They're all living on welfare.
Nationally, only about 20% of the homeless get some government payments. With the
exception of women with children there is very little aid available where I live (Florida), aside
from food stamps (which you must qualify for by seeking work and doing public service). If a
person works even part-time it may disqualify them from any assistance, even though they still
can't even afford as much as an ocassional rental room.
Many homeless who have significant physical or mental problems still get nothing in
government assistance. Many have been turned down so many times that they have given up
all hope and don't try anymore.
It's their own fault.
It's true that many people are homeless as a result of making wrong choices in life, but many
have problems, such as with their health, that they did not cause. How many people choose
to get cancer or arthritis?
A substantial percentage of the working U.S. population is only a couple paychecks away from
being homeless, and that percentage is increasing. People are losing their homes every day
through forclosure. How many people make a deliberate choice to be homeless?
Homeless people are criminals.
The rate of serious crime by the homeless is not much different than the general population.
It's true that there are many homeless who very frequently face time in the county jail due to
minor violations such as open-intoxicants, trespassing, and so on. Most serious drug addicts
have money and homes. Do you really think the multi-billion dollar drug trade in the U.S. is
funded by homeless people?
If the media covers a crime and the accused is homeless, they will make sure to point that out.
When a homeless person is assaulted, even to the point of having to be hospitalized, and
robbed it usually doesn't even get a paragraph in the paper.
All they need to do is get a job.
Just getting a job won't get anyone off the street. Maintaining a job that pays enough to afford
housing and other living expenses is what is necessary. Being without housing, clean clothes,
transportation, food, and other necessities makes it nearly impossible to become established
long enough to maintain any kind of meaningful work.
See Attempting to Work While Homeless.
Homeless people steal shopping carts.
I ocassionally see a homeless person on the street with a shopping cart, and some of these
are old rusty ones from stores that don't exist anymore. Most of the time it's lazy people taking
their groceries home, after which they abandon the cart. When you see shopping carts left in
front of homes and apartments it's not the homeless. It's just irresponsible people that don't
care. I saw dozens of carts abandoned at one apartment complex.
Homeless people get all their medical care for free.
I'ts true that if anyone, no matter if they are homeless, low-income, or even illegal alien, who
goes into an emergency room with a potentially life-threatening problem will get medical
attention. There are some local government agencies that provide limited medical assistance
for those who clearly cannot afford it, and this is for uninsured low income people just the
same as homeless people.
If a person has a problem such as partial paralysis or severe back pain, which prevents them
from working, they are unlikely to get anything more than some cheap over-the-counter pain
pills and be told to go "home" and get some bed rest. Even if surgery could correct the
problem for a few thousand dollars, there is no assistance. The person may eventually be
able to get on disability, but nothing to correct the problem. The government would rather pay
out hundreds of thousands per person in disability checks rather than correct the problem and
have the person go back to work.
Comments? Email me at:
Do you really believe that people deliberately
choose to live out here at night if there is any
Homeless people can't vote.
I don't know why some people think this, but there seems to be a perception that because a
person is homeless they are not allowed to vote. Anyone who is a US citizen, is of the
appropriate age, and has not been barred due to a felony, can vote. As an address for voter
registration they can use their mailing address which could be a mission, church, or homeless
program where they visit regularly. I've also noticed people actually asking if homeless people
are allowed to have drivers licenses.
Homeless don't have access to the Internet.
Most public libraries have computers available with Internet access, and they can be used for
free by anyone. It does take a little knowledge to use the computers, but many libraries or
programs have classes on how to access the Internet and use email. In the county where I live
there are several public libraries that have computers available.
"A man who has never gone to school
may steal from a freight car; but if he
has a university education, he may
steal the whole railroad"