Kylyssa Shay was homeless for over a year in her youth; it lead to her activism involving homelessness. She thinks, feels, and has opinions.
Stereotypes Harm People
I have worked with homeless people in shelters and soup kitchens and in literacy and skill-teaching programs serving them and others living in deep poverty. I was even living on the street myself many years ago. I also took teens and young adults into my home over the years after their parents discarded them for one reason or another. From these experiences I have learned a lot about homeless people and a lot about what average Americans think about them.
There is a perception of homeless people in our society that is created and held up by a vast collection of myths and assumptions, most of which are wrong. These misconceptions are dangerous and they seriously interfere with attempts to help those in need.
Some of these negative impressions are so ingrained into our society that even some people who are trying to help may believe some of them. Many of these incorrect representations make people who would otherwise want to help unwilling to help people they've come to believe do not deserve it. Here are just a few of those myths, misconceptions, stereotypes and assumptions.
Stereotype: They Are All Criminals
One of the most dangerous misunderstandings
Most homeless people are not criminals and many of those who are technically criminals have only committed what are called status crimes. Status crimes include getting arrested for loitering, sleeping in public, or trespassing. Those are called status crimes because they are things impossible to avoid doing if one does not have a home.
This stereotype is one of the most harmful because it creates an unreasonable fear of homeless people because those who spread it can't or don't distinguish between people who got a ticket for sleeping on a bench and violent criminals. It makes many who would probably help people afraid to do so. It prevents people from getting hired or from renting a place to live. This misconception also makes it difficult for charitable organizations to open or expand facilities that provide services for the needy due to objections from nearby residents who fear for their safety.
Misconception: If a Teen Gets Kicked Out It's Always His Own Fault and He Deserves to Live in Misery
...or teens all just run away from home for stupid reasons
Many teens have been discarded by their parents and usually for the most appalling reasons. Yes, some teens get kicked out for out-of-control behavior such as drug abuse and criminal activities but their numbers are relatively small.
As many as a quarter of gay teens in America will be kicked out when their parents or guardians discover their sexual orientation. Sometimes teens are kicked out on the mere suspicion of a non-heterosexual orientation. Homosexual and bisexual teens account for up to 40% of the teen homeless population. Another group of teens particularly at risk of parental ejection are transgender teens.
Other reasons parents give for ejecting teens from the home include suspected pre-marital sex, poor performance in school, teen pregnancy, and contact with a non-custodial parent. For others, expulsion from the home is just an extension of child abuse and domestic violence. In my experience, many teens are not so much kicked out as abandoned. The parents or parent leave the home, never to return.
The term 'runaway' is often applied to teens living on the street, but it's often applied incorrectly. The majority of teens and young adults living without permanent housing have either been kicked out or abandoned by their parents or guardians. Those who actually do leave home voluntarily are usually fleeing domestic violence, abuse, dangerous criminal activity, or drug-related activity.
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, or Questioning and Homeless
The PDFs in the following section contain information about the connection between sexual orientation and teens getting abandoned or discarded by parents. Sadly, about one in four LGBT teens and young adults can expect to get kicked out or abused until they flee in the United States.
Even when the young people involved are minors and throwing them out is illegal, very few parents or guardians are prosecuted for neglect. They are throwing their kids out to get raped and otherwise harmed and our society doesn't hold them accountable because this kind of prejudice often comes from deeply held personal beliefs. While I believe in freedom of religion, I believe that causing harm to another person or neglecting a minor is not protected behavior.
I am heartened by the recent recognition of this problem among moderate and liberal Christians. More and more Christian leaders are denouncing the abuse or abandonment of gay teens as something wrong that their religion does not support. Maybe social pressure will get some parents to stop their appalling behavior or at least make the legal system stop turning the other cheek when gay teens are neglected or abused.
These Facts Might Surprise You
According to the National Law Center On Homelessness and Poverty homeless people who commit crimes are less likely to commit violent or destructive crimes than homed people who commit crimes!
The link to their information on myths and misconceptions is below.
The pdf contains information dispelling a variety of myths including the magnet theory myth which holds that providing services to poor people will cause them to flood into a city from other areas.
Stereotype: They Are All Drug Addicts and Winos
One of the most commonly held beliefs
Many are neither drug addicts nor alcoholics. While close to half of adult homeless people in the United States currently struggle with addictions or have struggled with addictions in the past many of them do not have and have not had a drug or alcohol problem.
This is a harmful stereotype because it closes many doors for people without homes. Employers and landlords that believe this are unlikely to hire or rent to them. Even some homeless shelters are hampered by this misconception. Some of them require substance abuse counseling for all who use their services, even those without addictions, taking up valuable time that people could use to seek employment or to work odd jobs.
Fact: Many Women and Children are Living Without Homes
Forget about the idea that all people who have lost their homes are drug addicted criminals. Most homeless people are normal, decent people like Cecilia and her children. Most have fallen on difficult times and need a safe place to stay and help getting back on their feet.
Misconception: They Are All Mentally Ill
Only about a quarter of all homeless Americans are severely mentally ill. Those who are mentally ill are mainly ill in ways completely harmless to anyone but themselves. There's also some question as to whether or not those people who are mentally ill or emotionally disturbed became mentally ill as a consequence of trauma, violence, and other stresses experienced while living without adequate shelter.
This belief about homeless people is dangerous because it, again, creates fear and leads to suggestions that they should all be rounded up and institutionalized instead of helped. While mental illness does cause people to fail at independent living, it should be treated rather than feared. Anything that portrays an entire class of people as dangerous and out of control is harmful.
The Mental Illness Connection
- Mental Illness and Homelessness by National Coalition for the Homeless
Information about the relationship between mental illness and living without a home. The resources and references at the bottom of the page are an excellent place to start research on the issue.
Stereotype: They Are All Too Lazy to Work
Perhaps number one of them all
I can't count the number of times I've encountered this statement. It pops up almost every time I have a conversation about charity work and people start to go on about the topic of "the undeserving poor" or people they think don't deserve help. The major reason people claim poor people don't deserve to be helped is that they are too lazy to help themselves.
While almost half of all adult homeless people in America are unemployed it doesn't indicate laziness. Many of them lost their jobs through no fault of their own - through corporate downsizing or due to injury, illness, old age or disability.
Those well enough and young enough to work have many high barriers to gaining employment. They may be putting in dozens of applications a day but never get a bite due to the prejudice created by the strong and commonly held negative beliefs about homeless people.
Those with jobs are often underemployed or don't earn enough to afford rent or to qualify to rent. Another issue is that even if a person works full time, he or she may earn enough to afford an apartment but find themselves unable to rent one because of the income requirements many complexes have. Many rental properties require renters to make three times as much as the rent costs. Getting a co-signer can help but the co-signer usually has to have a good credit rating and an income, that if combined with the renter's, equals at least five times the price of the rent.
Related Links by Kylyssa Shay
- Why Don't Homeless People Just Get Jobs?
Have you wondered why people living on the street don't just get jobs and stop being homeless? This page explains why it isn't that simple.
- Some Reasons People Become Homeless
Have you ever wondered why people become homeless? This article explains just a few of the most common causes of home loss for people living in the United States. Some of them may surprise you.
- Why Homeless People Don't Use Shelters
Why do homeless people seem to avoid using emergency shelters? Read this page to learn some of the reasons homeless people can't or won't use shelters.
Misconception: It is Always the Result of Poor Choices
Since many people lose their homes due to disability, illness or injury, mental illness, learning disability or other mental impairment, parental abandonment, old age, and corporate downsizing the answer to this myth is a definitive no. No one chooses to become disabled, sick or injured. No one chooses to become mentally ill or to be born learning disabled. No one chooses to be born to abusive or dogmatic parents. No one chooses to lose a job through corporate downsizing.
Here's a sobering thought for you - over the course of a year about 1.5 million of America's children experience a period of homelessness. Do you think those children made bad choices?
Misconception: It is Freedom and a Life of Leisure
One of the stranger ideas people latch onto
Many people seem to think that being homeless is the result of a choice to be free from the pressures of a nine-to-five job and the stress of paying bills. In reality, many people still work and pay bills with the added stresses of humiliation, fear of violence, and worries about where to sleep at night. Even those men, women, and children who don't work or pay bills feel the stresses of insecurity, sleep deprivation, lack of cleanliness, and the ever-present danger of violence.
People without homes are constantly on the move, getting rousted by police or threatened by civilians. They don't get to participate in the leisure activities that homed people do. If you see a homeless person sleeping on a lawn looking peaceful it doesn't mean it's like he's on vacation. He's just getting a few minutes or hours of sleep and has nowhere else to do it.
Homelessness is not a carefree existence, it is a miserable one.
Keep Your Comments Clean and On Topic and You'll Get Your Say
Please, no swearing in the guestbook, not even of the mildest sort. This page is rated G as it is linked in many student lesson plans and any swearing at all will result in your comment not being published. This rejection of swearing and off-topic rants is causing this to be a very one-sided guestbook. If you have something you want to say and wish to see it posted here, please refrain from bad language and threats and stick to the topic of stereotypes and myths about homeless people and homelessness.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2010 Kylyssa Shay
What Myths, Misconceptions, or Stereotypes Have You Heard About Homeless People?
Richard Baird from Jupiter, FL on July 17, 2018:
Great article, Thank You!
I have been homeless for over 5 years now. I have 100% clean criminal record, I don't do drugs, drink, steal. I also have a driver's license with a clean driving record. My mental illness is bipolar and schizophrenia.
I never could hold down a job for more than 8 1months because of my mental health but I do try to work as much as I can.
I did own a sailboat for a year in West Palm Beach Florida at the public docks on the end of Clematis Street in downtown. I don't have the sailboat anymore, it's a complicated story. I am trying to get another sailboat to live on, keyword "TRY".
I have been trying to get disability since 2013, I gave up in 2017 because of so many issues with the disability system. I hate taking medication and I'm not wasting money on meds that I'm not going to take just to make SSDI/SSI happy to help approve me for disability, being on the streets, you can't risk it nor afford it (what would you pick, food or your medication? if you had a choice) it make you loopy and sleepy and with little sleep a night as it is, all you try to do is sleep all day to the point that if I need to work at a day Labour to make food money or things I need, like phone bill, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, mailbox rental, and 3DS games, etc... I CAN'T (it's funny in order to get approved for disability you have to buy your medication constantly but once you're approved you no longer have to buy medication and don't have to see doctors and you still get disability, how does that work?)
One of the things I've learned about being homeless is that people are cruel and harsh, not a few but the majority. Here in Jupiter Florida some of the police hates homeless and almost everyone as well. I've had a few police officers trying to arrest me in Parks when I'm just sitting there playing on my phone or my 3DS, they get upset because they can't do nothing because of my clean record but all cops are shocked that I have a clean record and some of them wish they could.
I love police, always want to become a police officer to help protect and serve the community and to weed out the corrupt cops, I am a strong believer that cops are supposed to Serve and Protect not harass and make up their own laws to benefit them on what they want to do to the individual. I want to be the officer that goes after the criminals in the government, police force, citizens, etc... but I can't because of my mental illness! :(
I have 3 great friends, one is homeless with me now that lived with me on the boat and the other 2 are a couple that gave me the boat. He was homeless for 7 years and I've known them for over 2 years now. I used to move around a lot, Colorado New York, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and a few others. Guess I was looking for a place to call home.
I get no support from my family at all but once every few years, one of my family member will send me a few bucks for food but that's about it. That's ok though, they have their own thing's to deal with. I'm the type of person that I really don't like asking for help, I'll come up with a solution before I ask for help but 9 out of ten times, I'll just suffer and deal with it then ask.
It's funny in the article is says about people that have homes commit crimes more than people that are homeless. I see that is true for one simple fact that Park and Recreation have stolen all my stuff before in Denver leaving me with just a shirt and pants and shoes and here in Jupiter I've overheard kids that are wealthy seeing the stuff that I have and wanting to steal it and trying to find out were I sleep. I've slept in Downtown West Palm Beach and a park around a bunch of other homeless people that don't know me that have big criminal records stole anything I have had and I have slept with all my stuff's sproud out all over. I read another article about a guy that was homeless had his bike stolen while he was asleep and when the guy took it he got up ran after him and caught him as he was putting it into a $60,000 SUV. Can't remember if it was Los Angeles or San Diego.
Sorry for my long boring story, I just want to share what I go through being homeless.
Hope on July 05, 2018:
Thank you for this post! My son created his own homeless mission last year. We are on a first name basis on most of the ones in our area. What he and a lot of people do not know is that I was homeless myself. The big difference between my story and a lot of the people on the street... I had family/friends that took me in, and helped support me mentally until I got back on my feet. It was a struggle but I couldn't have done it without their help. I was given a 2nd chance
Mia on June 10, 2017:
This was very helpful and educational. I did not realize how many misconceptions and myths about homeless people.
May on April 15, 2017:
This was very helpful when researching for my essay on a misunderstood community!
luis on September 28, 2016:
i like it it helped me with my homework
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on February 05, 2016:
I hadn't heard that myth before. It's an odd one. If anything, being black would probably be at least somewhat less safe, considering the types of drunk young men who tend harass homeless people for entertainment.
big E on February 02, 2016:
It is a lot safer for a homeless person if you are black.
Geri McClymont on January 16, 2016:
A very educational article about all the misconceptions we have about homeless people, and I learned so much from reading it. I am so glad to hear that this article was going to be included in a school textbook, as education about this topic should begin at a young age.
It is so easy to judge others, but the reality is that we often do not know or bother to find out where other people are coming from and what the circumstances are that led them to the point of being homeless. As you mention, the income requirements many complexes require make it impossible for even people who work full-time to get housing.
Thank you for shedding light on this important topic to help us better understand the various circumstances that cause people to become homeless.
Ryan at Catalyst on November 04, 2015:
I would really like to run this article in The Catalyst street paper. Our first issue will be coming out this month and I think your writing is one of the voices that we are looking for. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I look forward to hearing from you,
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on August 01, 2015:
Thank you! Actually, this article was picked up by a Cambridge educational publisher for use in a textbook for children ages 11 to 13 last year, so it's getting much broader exposure than just on HubPages. It also has links in an assortment of educational materials used by high school students as well. I think early exposure is the key to retaining empathy for our neighbors so I was utterly delighted by its inclusion in a textbook for young people.
I think every voice helps to change minds and open hearts.
maggs224 from Sunny Spain on August 01, 2015:
An excellent hub on a much-needed topic, our media and our governments fuel the negative stereotypes with the way they treat and talk about those needing any kind of help or benefit to survive.
In the UK the poor have been demonised to such an extent we have an almost Pavlovian response to certain words. Say the word Benefits and the Pavlovian response is likely to be scroungers - frauds - lazy scum etc.
All totally negative terms and attributed erroneously in the vast majority of cases.
I applaud your attempt to expose these myths and misconceptions though I think that those who need to read something like this are not the ones most like to :(
Voting up on my way off the page and hitting the relevant buttons :D
Jo Fraser on September 24, 2014:
In 2007, I found myself homeless, this was approx 2 years after my husband died suddenly. No life insurance, and a house that was falling apart... literally. I managed to hold onto the house until our daughter graduated from high school, but once that was done, it was time to let go. My daughter moved in with friends, and I was in a homeless shelter. What an eye opening experience. Yes, I was working, about 30 hours a week at the time. After 8 weeks in the shelter, I managed to get myself a cheap apartment. That lasted only 8 weeks because someone started a fire, and the fire marshal deemed the house unihabitable. Finally 8 months later, got a full time job and a decent apartment. That lasted 3 years until I had a motorcycle accident, and moved out of state to be closer to my daughter. She is now married with her husband in the military, I'm with friends, until I can get on my feet again. Right now, I'm going for a Computer Science degree, that hopefully, will help get me a better paying job, and completely independent again.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on August 14, 2014:
@subtlehues: Some homeless women don't use soup kitchens to avoid harassment from the homed and homeless men who tend to loiter outside. Many people hide their status by avoiding such charities. The more capable people are, the more likely they are to not be seen near soup kitchens or shelters unless it's unavoidable. People who wait outside soup kitchens all day tend to be those less socially able, or most physically or mentally ill. They tend to make other homeless people nervous, too, and may cause them to avoid services. Loud and mentally ill people can be intimidating.I generally don't engage in conversation with men who make catcalls although it's been a long time since anyone made catcalls at me. Reacting doesn't seem like a good idea. I always just continued on my way. Walk purposefully and carry pepper spray. Any men who make you feel frightened are best to avoid if possible. Trust your instincts. Be sure not to make the mistake of letting your guard down because no one shabby or shouting is nearby. I learned the hard way that some well-dressed men hanging out near charities for the poor may be pimps or rapists.
subtlehues on August 14, 2014:
Honestly I live near a homeless shelter and I see a lot of people who obviously need help and deserve it. On the other hand I now experience street harassment on an almost daily basis and it is almost always patrons of the soup kitchen. I will say that not all of the people cat-calling and saying inappropriate things are homeless, but they are patrons of the soup kitchen. The reason I know this is bc it always seems to be men hanging in front of the soup kitchen, or with their cars parked right outside. I'm not trying to promote stereotypes, just sharing my honest experience. I absolutely hate being messed with on the street because of my gender so I am regularly frustrated with how to deal with these men who seem to have no respect for women. How is a girl to handle this issue? I moved here bc I thought I had a lot of empathy, but honestly I am starting to really resent a lot of the patrons of this particular soup kitchen after dealing with them on a daily basis.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on July 24, 2014:
@redsblue: Food pantries may be a better choice and they may actually give you a box or bag of food to take with you without getting your parents to fill out forms but it's possible they won't. Take photo ID and some other proof of address like even an old utility bill stub or envelope with your parent's address on it if they share the same last name as you. If that stub shows late fees on it all the better. It would be better if a piece of mail has your name on it so it couldn't hurt to even bring some pieces of junk mail with your name on them. I know that sounds weird but they like proof of where you live. If food pantries won't give you food they can and should give you information about who can help you in your area if you ask. They almost always have a list of charities and agencies that help people, sometimes even in a handout or on a little card they give with food. You want contact information to the ones that help teens who are victims of parental neglect; someone will likely even help you figure out which ones on their list would apply to you. If you go in and keep your story very brief and speak with the volunteers honestly and respectfully you'll probably walk away with at least something. If you are referring to yourself or a friend, I wish you the best of luck and I hope you find food and security for whoever it is that needs it.
redsblue on July 24, 2014:
can people who have homes. go to soup kitchens? like those who simply don't have money. like teens in bad situations? but haven't run away. for example a parent who waste money and doesn't buy food?
asereht1970 from Philippines on May 26, 2014:
This is a great eye-opener lens. Thank you for sharing. Here there are more homeless now than before because they do not or have forgotten where they lived before, like some sort of dementia. Many don't look like they are mentally unstable, just lost.
Kathryn Grace from San Francisco on January 07, 2014:
I live in San Francisco, where the homeless population is in the tens of thousands. I see the gamut, from the young couple in clean clothes and with good haircuts sleeping in a shop doorway with clean blankets and an alarm clock, to the whacked-out crazy guy with a Methuselah beard, who walks around with only an extremely street-blackened hand out, begging for money for a cup of coffee.Over the years, I have gotten to know a few of the homeless people in my area and talked with several of them. Some abuse drugs and alcohol. Some admit to suffering from schizophrenia and are unable to hold a job because of their illness. Some have war injuries and other health challenges that prevent their getting or holding jobs, so they panhandle. Sometimes I will see an apparently newly unemployed guy walking around in a soiled suit, his haircut still showing the signs of the salon, digging in trashcans for food.And yes, teenagers. Far too many teenagers and women. One day, a woman and a small child were digging through the trashcans in our neighborhood. I gave her all the money I had and tried to offer her assistance to a shelter, but she spoke no English and seemed to be afraid that someone out of sight my see her talking to me. I went to flag down a passing patrol car and ask them to help her, but when I turned back, she and her daughter had disappeared. I walked up and down the block, but could not find them. That woman and her child haunt me. I remember so well the glee on the child's face when she saw the money I pressed into her mother's hand.I once saw a woman in an expensive suit and coat, her well-cut and hand-colored hair and manicured nails a sure giveaway of her economic status until perhaps that very day. She had a sleeping bag and a clean little overnight bag, like you carry on the airplane. She was asleep on the sidewalk, one of five or ten still asleep that cold early morning, where subway heat pours out of vents.Some homeless people have told me they don't like sleeping indoors and wouldn't want a roof over their heads, but they get tired of looking over their shoulder and sleeping with one hand on a knife under their pillow so sometimes they take advantage of the shelters, if they can get in. Several have told me the streets are safer than the shelters, where violence and drugs abound.One woman, an older woman like me, told me she had been raped repeatedly, just that week, and that the $35/night rooms she tried to get in each night were not much safer than the streets. Just that week, she had witnessed a guy stabbing another man outside her room. He then tried to knock down doors, including hers.Until we as a nation step up and find ways to provide security, food, comfort and shelter to the poorest among us, we have no business calling ourselves the greatest nation on Earth. I look forward to the day, and hope yet to see it in my lifetime, when every human being is treated with respect and dignity and valued for his or her contributions to society, whatever those contributions may be.
gabriel-burnett2 on December 14, 2013:
I stay near a homeless shelter, and I often play chess some of them. The biggest problem a lot of them have on a daily bases is not the people that they come in contact on the street it's the staff that treats them less than human, and that is a shame.
Linda Hahn from California on December 07, 2013:
I salute you for insisting on presenting the homeless issue to the public.
amirahmed01 on November 17, 2013:
They will rape you if you are not careful. I've heard some of the best stories of my life and they were from homeless individuals.
tonyleather on November 12, 2013:
It is ridiculous to tar everyone with the same brush, because circumstances could have been so bad for those concerned. There but for the grace of god--------
anonymous on June 10, 2013:
I do not understand why peopleare homeless but have a great deal of pain from what I do understand by knowing my brother is homeless, hungry and cold, hurting both phsyical and emotionally. The missing piece of the puzzel- where is it? So many reasons not one answer. People are hurt and lonely and homeless is the end result.
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on May 02, 2013:
Just stopping by to wish you the very best that springtime has to offer. In the winter we do not notice the homeless so much although there is considerably more attention to plite in the winter months. Spring is now here and it is during the warmer months that we will notice more homeless in the local parks and sleeping on our streets.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on December 04, 2012:
@anonymous: Severely mentally ill people exist in all walks of life so it is unsurprising you have met a few. I've encountered a pretty large number of mentally ill people myself although none of that particular type. I've only ever heard stories of "the guy who wants to be homeless because he can't stand rules" though, usually from conservatives who haven't worked with homeless people. I have met a lot of homed people who assume homelessness is a choice who ask homeless folks why they chose to be homeless and then they get a bunch of smart-Alec answers (because, seriously, it's like asking someone why they chose to get brain cancer - condescending, rude, nasty, and unkind) because there's no polite answer such askers will believe.I got asked why I chose to be homeless so many times I have lost track. I admit there were times I thought of just telling the askers to "stick it where the sun don't shine" or of saying something crazy to make them leave me alone instead of rubbing my nose in my horrible get-raped-every-few-weeks situation.
anonymous on December 04, 2012:
I have actually heard some homeless people say to me that they don't want to live in doors. A homeless guy told me he did not like living by other people's rules in shelters. He said in apartments he had to live by the landlords rules. He could not paint his unit or make changes to suit himself. I could not believe this when he told me and said so. He got VERY upset that I did not believe him. I had to conclude some people are homeless because; they want to be. I am sure the number of people on the streets by choice is small but I am certain they exist since I'd met more than one such individual who is homeless by choice!
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on October 03, 2012:
I removed my story "My friend Pete" a while ago but I think that you had visited my page when it is was live. Pete was hit by a train and because of disability he lost everything and became homeless. I learned that he died in August at the age of 52. Homelessness is such a very sad fact of our society.
anonymous on September 17, 2012:
My drama task is to write a monologue and I chose to do it about homeless people and this has helped me a lot as I can now really feel the person's feelings and I can see through their eyes. I really think that this website is very helpful and that this website is also more special as you were once homeless as well.Thank You.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on July 15, 2012:
@anonymous: Education and exposure do a lot to awaken peoples' natural empathy. I have been blessed to have a few people contact me to thank me for showing them they were mistaken in their attitudes about people less fortunate than themselves. It's hard to hate people once you start to see them as people.
anonymous on July 14, 2012:
I really wish I knew how to end the cemented notions so many have about the homeless and those on Welfare. From my experience this hateful attitude is practically impenetrable. Minds are made up. How do we reach these people?
anonymous on June 26, 2012:
Seriously great article! The organization I work for holds an annual event regarding whatever the most prevalent issue is and this year it is Changing the Conversation. Definitely plan on using your wisdom in my research, thank you!
anonymous on May 23, 2012:
Thanks for exposing these myths of homeless people. I'm very close to someone who was homeless and believe me, it's not a choice you'd make if you had better alternatives.
MartieG aka 'survivoryea' from Jersey Shore on May 20, 2012:
When my daughter was in college in Philly she worked at the homeless shelters tutoring the children, most were good people who were down on their luck-terrific lens that will maybe open some eyes to the problems ~blessed~
anonymous on April 27, 2012:
I must confess that I once believed most of the myths and stereotypes that you list here. I'm afraid that these wrong beliefs about the homeless are so pervasive that it may take a long time for all of us to come to know the truth about homeless people and the causes of homelessness. Thanks, Kylyssa, for sharing from your experience so that may all learn the truth about this important issue.
Rose Jones on April 10, 2012:
Back to this great lens. Out to my Facebook fans so that other people can see the important information.
Rose Jones on February 09, 2012:
You always find some more new information about this important topic to share with us. I liked this a lot, and Angel Blessed!
anonymous on February 01, 2012:
Your work on behalf of the homeless seems to be unending and you put your whole self into it; we are all the better for it...blessed.
Odille Rault from Gloucester on November 20, 2011:
Brilliant lens! This should be taught in schools to nip stereotypes in the bud - in young people. Blessed. :)
AlleyCatLane on October 22, 2011:
This is an important and much needed article. I have shared it on FaceBook and Goggle+. Thanks for breaking down people's misconceptions, including my own. This article is angel blessed.
anonymous on September 12, 2011:
It's important for people to realize that stereotypes and assumptions about this vulnerable population are not true in most cases. Great article.
David Dove on August 31, 2011:
great lens - again, thank you.
neoglitch17 on August 10, 2011:
Very enlightening information. Not all homeless people are heartless criminals or incredibly lazy people, that's for sure. Thanks for sharing.
anonymous on May 08, 2011:
I will be lensrolling this to my lens called Second Mile Ministry. This is beautiful. God bless you and your heart of compassion.
Greenwickpress on February 25, 2011:
While riding a Greyhound bus across the country, a fellow passenger proudly explained to me that authorities in Salt Lake City had gotten rid of their homeless population by shipping them to another city. I was not well educated about homelessness at the time and was still subject to the myths that abound, but that idea still struck me as bizarre and unfeeling. We should really not look at homelessness as a problem to be eradicated, but instead should concentrate on providing services to homeless people - because it is easier for most to be compassionate to people instead of some big faceless idea.I'm glad you made this page, I hope it informs a lot of people.
E L Seaton from Virginia on December 28, 2010:
It is their own fault, ie, they want to be homeless. Not true. That one paycheck away cuts across all social strata and we won't throw in Mr. Economy. Life happens and if your particular circumstances will not allow you to overcome and improvise (think McGyver) a way out, you're stuck. You work a lot harder when you know you risk hunger if you are not actively looking for the next meal.
Jack on November 02, 2010:
Blessed by a Squid Angel.
reasonablerobby on October 23, 2010:
This is a really important subject. Too many people are quick to assume that homeless people are lazy. They have no idea about how people came to be in dire straights, and they ought to realise it could easily happen to them. A few years back I had a top well paid job, in a matter of months I lost it , my wife had an affair and left, and my mother passed away, suddenly I was facing financial worries and emotionally unable to cope. But for the support of friends I could easily have ended up in desperate circumstances. Being homeless is not a 'choice' is much deeper than that.
Kylyssa Shay (author) from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on August 06, 2010:
@Ramkitten2000: The problem is also compounded by panhandlers who are quite often not homeless. The average homeless person is invisible. They try not to be seen and, if seen, they try not to look homeless. For instance - how many homeless children have you seen aside from inside a shelter or soup kitchen? People in America seldom see a child that they can tell is homeless even though there are over a million of them out there. It's because their parents try to blend them into the background because it is safer.
Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on August 05, 2010:
Unfortunately, it seems that the most visible homeless people (on the streets and in the news stories) ARE often those with substance about problems and/or those who commit crimes, only perpetuating the stereotypes. Homeless people who do not fit into the typical stereotypes seem to be those many or most of us rarely see or don't recognize as homeless.