Myth: Those experiencing homelessness are mentally ill, drug addicts, or alcoholics

Reality: While it’s estimated 25-50% of those affected by homelessness have mental health or substance abuse problems, many face different challenges. These challenges can be the product of an accident, or brought on by the ever-rising costs of food, rent, medication, and other essentials.

Homelessness is not always caused by health issues.  It is often caused by economic issues, or other unexpected challenges. People experiencing homelessness come from all kinds of backgrounds. These people could be your neighbors your friends, or even your family.  Some of these people include:

  • Seniors on fixed incomes facing rent increases.
  • Women and their families in transition from abusive relationships
  • The working poor
  • Single parents who lose their jobs
  • Youth leaving government care
  • Low-income families who can’t find affordable housing
  • People with special needs, work-related injuries, and mental or physical disabilities
  • Young adults earning minimum wage

There is no one face of homelessness, no convenient stereotype to explain the issue away. Instead, there is a mosaic made of different faces –different people- from different backgrounds, with different stories.

For more information about the connection between mental health and homelessness: Homeless Hub

Learning about Stigma

Recently, members of our Speakers Bureau had the opportunity to attend stigma training provided by Aids Vancouver Island. The members reported gaining greater self-awareness of their own experiences of stigmatization as well as learning tools to respond to stigmatizing behaviour they see in themselves and others. They highly recommend the training and would like to share some of the highlights: Continue reading