Category Archives: Health

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

Homelessness & Brain Injury

You see a young man* walking towards you on the sidewalk. At first he appears just fine, but as you approach you notice that his steps aren’t quite as direct and sure as your own. You notice him fumbling in his pocket for a note. As you get close enough, he requests your help in words that aren’t quite clear, “can you read this for me – I’m not sure where I need to go.”

Do you stop and help? Do you shake your head and move on? Do you make assumptions about substance abuse or mental illness? Continue reading