Myths of Homelessness: Part 1

Welcome to our new blog Home for Hope! We’re so pleased to have a revamped platform to share news, events, and stories focusing on homelessness issues within the Capital Region and internationally.

To shed some light on the many harmful stereotypes of homelessness, we’ve developed a series of posts to tackle some of these stereotypes and debunk the myths of homelessness. This week, we will look at Myth: Homelessness only happens in Downtown Victoria and Myth: Those experiencing homelessness are only the mentally ill, drug addicts, or alcoholics.

Myth: Homelessness only happens in Downtown Victoria

Reality: Homelessness not only affects those you see on the streets around the Downtown Core, but is present throughout the 13 municipalities, Salt Spring, and Southern Gulf Islands that make up the Capital Region District.

In a 2007 Cool Aid Society Survey, 815 people experiencing homelessness were interviewed.

  • 73% came from the Core Municipalities: Saanich, Esquimalt, Oak Bay, and Victoria.
  • 4% from the Western Communities: Langford, Colwood, View Royal, Highlands,
  • Sooke and Metchosin
  • 3% from the Saanich Peninsula: North Saanich, Central Saanich, Sidney
  • 4% from Salt Spring Island

While we can see homelessness throughout downtown Victoria, we often don’t see its affect on those living past the core. Homelessness touches the people living in their cars; people sleeping on friends’ couches, in church basements, in welfare motels, and crowded buildings. Some people have full-time jobs. Some are seniors. Some are families. Homelessness isn’t just a downtown issue. It’s an “everywhere issue”, and it can affect anyone.

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

Reality: While about half of those affected by homelessness have mental health or substance abuse problems, the remainder 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.

We will continue our series the myths of homelessness with Myth: Youth are on the streets because they’re rebellious and have run away from home, and Myth: Most people experiencing homelessness choose to be homeless.
Stay tuned.

One thought on “Myths of Homelessness: Part 1

  1. marie baron-hamilton

    With most of us living pay to pay ,all it takes is for one to fall sick, that’s when you need the most help, You could work for the government it doesn’t matter firts sign of weakness you are in trouble, your bills add up , power gets shut off running water , telephone ,your family has left you to live on astance, your house has been taken by the bank , etc, How close are we all to living in the streets ask yourself this and then maybe u might understand .If you don’t you are a fool.Communities are more prone to help someone who lost everything in a fire rather than people who lost their homes to the bank I could go on and on. but I really would love for people to think long and hard about what I have said.

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