A Growing Epidemic Of Homelessness
Homelessness is a growing epidemic that is happening all over the globe. Most people often look away when they come to a stoplight or pretend to be on the phone when they see a homeless person asking for money because they believe they won't use the money in a wholesome way. Although there's a risk that homeless people might use the money on illegal substances, we should always give homeless people money because 74% of homeless people are not drug abusers according to the National Coalition for the Homeless (1), those that are homeless need the money to support themselves and get by, and the media's stereotypes should not dictate the actions homeless people actually make.
Firstly, there's a common misconception that the homeless population is filled with drug and substance abusers. Karel Hnilica and Veronika Bartuskova are both Czechoslovakian writers that work in the editorial office of a psychological institute, and state in their journal titled Stereotypes, Moral Stands and General Priority, There's a scale of generalized prejudice towards homeless people being drug abusers??¦ and conservatives will be of the opinion that the state should not provide assistance to these groups because they do not deserve it.(1) This explains that most of the public does stereotype these people without being fully knowledgeable that some do not do drugs.
On the other hand, there's the 26% of homeless people that have admitted to using drugs (1) according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Understandably, those that have used substances have explained that it helps cope with the hunger, coldness, and the depression that comes along with homelessness. The Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing stated, Drugs that are available on the streets do have a reputation for helping to numb any emotions that one would have when undergoing any type of trauma. (1) Nonetheless, this is not giving people an excuse for narcotics abuse; however, at the end of the day people have choices that they make whether that's the right choice or the easy choice. Some might even assume that it's the same and that may be the case for those that are insolvent.
Additionally, there are reports of homeless people trying to quit drugs, but simply cannot because that's all they have. An article from Nicotine & Tobacco Research titled Cigarette Purchasing Patterns, Readiness to Quit, and Quit Attempts Among Homeless Smokers said, Findings suggest that cigarette purchasing patterns are linked with the readiness to quit smoking among smokers who are homeless. (1526) This can possibly be the case for those that use drugs or even smoke cigarettes. It's an addiction few can overcome alone, but also adding homelessness on top of it, it's very rare to hear those that can achieve sobriety.
Although, there's a percentage that use drugs, there still leaves that other percentage of people that can be contributing members of society but probably aren't because they aren't financially stable. While there is still an amount that do, this should not decipher how others spend their few dollars that they have. These limitations are only contributing to the homeless problem allowing it to grow rather than putting a stop to this devastation.
Secondly, the issue is increasing in severity because the homeless population is so isolated and shunned from society. Of course, there is homeless shelters that are in reach to some of those that are homeless; however, according to an article from the European Journal of Public Health titled, Morbidity and housing status 10 years after shelter use, they say many people do not like living in a shelter because of the risks of violence, death and stealing that comes with it. (1092) Most homeless people would rather choose living on the streets than living in a shelter. Because of their poor living conditions, they need any money that will help contribute to their needs whether that's buying food, some new clothes, or even a blanket. These people go days, or even weeks without eating or bathing and the change we find in our pockets could help contribute to their lives to make it a little better; these few dollars can give them a well-enough meal that will get them by the next time they'll be able to raise some money.
However, an article titled The Homeless and Occupy El Paso: Creating Community among the 99% stated, those that are in homeless shelters or housing of that sort, some do not come from a background of addiction. (9) A director from El Paso's La Posada Homeless Shelter that wishes to be anonymous says, Since this is only a women's and children's shelter, most of these women are housed here because they have escaped from domestic violence and abuse. The majority of these women that we take in, have not had a history of narcotics and/or they have overcome it and have been on the path of sobriety. The article also says, Some homeless people even credit the activities carried helping them recover from addiction and their eventual attainment of housing. (10) According to the director she also said that they work as a home to assist the women to get back on their feet and provide not only shelter, but solidarity and dignity too.
Thirdly, media's stereotypes should not influence the society to think a certain way about something. Types of media like TV, the radio, newspapers and more may be the reason why we think a specific way towards the homeless population whether that's good or bad. This reason can be easily backed up by Housing, Care & Support's article called, On the new today: challenging homelessness through participatory action research, they state, with its focus on power relations in society, is noted to be useful for analyzing local media representations of homeless people. (13) They also explained, The research provides clear evidence of the emancipatory value to challenge vital social issues like power of the local media to frame understandings of homelessness. (13)
Furthermore, homeless people may be often categorized and are depicted as many negative connotations. These stereotypes prevent the population from receiving any life changing opportunities that can benefit them such as job offers, which may further contribute to the labeling problem people give out. The media portrays the homeless population as lazy, drug addicts with various mental disorders, which is unjust to the many homeless people attempting to better their lives. But there is a positive way media can influence people to view the homeless population, people can use social media to raise money to allow these people to go back to a sustainable life. This can be backed up by an article titled Readers' Donation Behavior toward Refugees and Homeless Persons, they state, on the amount of money readers donate to a refugee aid organization or an organization that supports homeless people. (1) To sum up, the media has a big voice in depictions of the public and this can be a disadvantage or an advantage to society.
All aspects considered, society should make it a point to help contribute to the homeless community because there's some individuals that may be grateful for the proceed and use it loyally, this will play a part in their purchases that will help them get by each day, and this will completely bring an end to media's stereotypes towards the homeless population. Of course, people may continue to believe that they don't spend their money morally; however, if one person shows assistance to those that are receivership, this can turn into a domino effect. Take under consideration what they must go through each day and help them make it a little easier.