Infographic Wednesday - Myths of Homelessness

Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association
January 15, 2014

This week’s infographic is by the Center for Justice and Social Compassion. Myths have very big implications on the way that people understand the problem of homelessness. Service providers and other groups working with people experiencing homelessness can clearly see their detrimental impacts.

This infographic corresponds well with a series of articles written by Christine Schanes that was published by the Huffington Post. The trouble with these myths is that they affect people’s perceptions towards those experiencing homelessness. It is easier to ignore the crisis of homelessness if people somehow rationalize that it is the fault of the person.

Christine Schanes refers to this ignoring of people as ‘sleep walking’, since people walk right by without acknowledging those experiencing homelessness (this was also discussed by Tanya Gulliver). However, as Schanes makes clear in her article, “we cannot end homelessness by ignoring the problem”.

This infographic points out some of the real causes of homelessness: lack of affordable housing, foreclosure, traumatic experiences, poverty, unemployment, domestic violence, natural disasters and disabilities. Sometimes, however, it can also just be the result of an unfortunate circumstance coupled with a lack of support.

Coordinating a strategy to end homelessness should be coupled with an education component aimed at addressing some of these common myths. This means making research accessible and continuing to publicly challenge these misconceptions. It is important to also take into account that these myths also affect those who are experiencing homelessness. Not only do these myths take away public willingness to act and show political support, but those who are without housing are forced to confront many of these myths while attempting to overcome their living situation. Regardless of an individual’s pathway into homelessness, everyone deserves safe and affordable housing.

Isaac Coplan is an instructor of Homelessness in Canadian Society at Ryerson University and an Education Coordinator at the Ontario Non-Profit Housing Association. In the past, Isaac worked the Homeless Hub on Knowledge Mobilization, communications and infographic design. Isaac’s main research interests are in homelessness with a focus on community based research.

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The analysis and interpretations contained in the blog posts are those of the individual contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness.