Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Myths Vs. Facts on Homelessness in Asheville

Since this year's Extravablogiversapaloozathon is also a benefit for AHOPE - the Homeward Bound homeless shelter/program here in town, I'll be dropping y'all some tasty bites about the homelessness problem and what folks in Asheville are doing about it. This clip comes from Amy Sawyer, Director of the Homelessness Initiative for the City of Asheville.

Perception vs. Reality

Homeless people not only suffer from the hardship of their condition, but also must deal with the alienation and discrimination brought about by the myths and stereotypes about homelessness. What follows are some of the myths and the realities about homelessness.

Myth: Homeless people are a fixed population who are usually homeless for long periods of time.

Fact: The homeless population is quite diverse relative to their length of homelessness and the number of times they cycle in and out of homelessness. Research  indicates that 40% of homeless people have been homeless less than six months, and that 70% of homeless people have been homeless less than two years.

Myth: Homeless people are mostly single men.

Fact: Families constitute a large and growing percentage of the homeless population. A recent study found that families comprise 38% of the urban homeless population. Other research has found that homeless families comprise the majority of homeless people in rural areas.

Myth: Homeless people don't work and get most of their money from public assistance programs.

Fact: Many homeless people are among the working poor, and a relatively small percentage of them receive government assistance. A nationwide study in 1987 found that only 20% of 1,704 homeless people received public assistance. A study done in Chicago found that 39% of the homeless people interviewed had worked for some time during the previous month.

Myth: They're to blame for being homeless.

Fact: Most homeless people are victims. Some have suffered from child abuse or violence. Nearly one quarter are children. Many have lost their jobs.

Myth: They are dangerous and they break the law.

Fact: In general, the homeless are among the least threatening group in our society and are more likely to be victims of crime. Although they are more likely to commit non-violent and non-destructive crimes, they are less likely to commit crimes against person or property.

Myth: Charitable groups will take care of the homeless.

Fact: The growth of homelessness has far exceeded the capacity of charitable groups. Homelessness is a societal problem that requires a partnership between private charities and the government, with active public support.

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