But something dawned on me today while reading yet another list of homeless myths. Most people don’t really believe them. A myth is an incorrect idea or inaccurate concept that is believed to be true. Yes, the things said about homeless people are often incorrect and not based on fact, but most people don’t really believe them anyway. (it is not really a myth if it is not really believed)
Over the many years of talking to people about these specific things, these “myths,” I’ve found that people have other motivations for speaking about the homeless in terms of these misconceptions. And, it should be noted that all these myths are negative or derogatory. Well, at least the myths that are always discussed in lists of homeless myths. Actually there are other myths about the homeless that are positive in nature, but they too are also inaccurate assumptions, said not because they are true but because they serve another purpose. Basically, those who hate the homeless and are biased against them will talk of the negative myths. Those who attempt to defend the homeless from negative myths have created a set of positive myths as a counter.
The negative statements that people make regarding homeless people are said, not because they are believed, but because they serve a purpose. They hate the homeless and want to justify their anger and hatred and biases, etc., so they blurt out these negative ideas about the homeless. They say these things in newspaper articles, internet discussion groups, in other public forums, and also between themselves – especially when the issue of homelessness becomes political. For example, it is easy to sway a city council, or police department, if nothing but negatives are declared concerning the homeless, especially when there is no one around to counter these statements.
If these negative statements about the homeless were not effective, people wouldn’t bother with spouting them. But, considering how ignorant most people are concerning homelessness, such declarations as “homeless people are lazy” are allowed to stand unchallenged and taken as valid – not because people believe them but because they are convenient, and because no one knows the actual truth and are unable to counter the negative.
Since people don’t really believe these things about homelessness, it is wrong to call them “myths”. So, lets stop calling them that. When we call these things “myths” there is an implied innocence. But the people saying these things are not innocent, they are very much guilty of their hate and prejudice towards the homeless, and they know it. We should not let these people off so easily. We need to hold them accountable for the mistreatment of the homeless. When homeless people are mistreated their situation becomes worse and it becomes even more difficult for them to get out of their homeless situation.
Whenever a person makes a negative statement concerning the homeless, tell him to prove it, to show factual data that proves what he’s talking about. While he stammers about, not knowing how to respond to your interjection, start listing off all the facts that are known about the homeless.
You don’t know any real facts about the homeless?
Then do some research. Try this page http://nationalhomeless.org/about-homelessness/
and this page http://nationalhomeless.org/references/publications/
and this http://www.endhomelessness.org/
and this https://www.nhchc.org/
and this usich.gov
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