This semester during my research and subsequent interviews learning about homelessness, I was both saddened and surprised by many of the stories that I heard and the facts that I read during my academic research. Many people in our society are quick to judge the homeless and are often not as understanding of each individual situation as they should be. I learned quickly that there are many different stereotypes that come up under the subject of homelessness, and these stereotypes became especially clear to me when I spoke with Sarah Erdo of Bethesda Project when I went to the facility to complete the Interview Assignment.
When speaking with Sarah, she said that she has experienced people who are unsympathetic to the homeless. It is widely believed that everyone has an addiction, no one wants to work, everyone is lazy, and people want to take advantage of the situation. Sarah went on to say that the fact of the matter is that loss of family and social support, as well as employment for all different reasons, can slowly lead to a person becoming homeless as well. While men who are homeless come from all different types of backgrounds, many are qualified to work. They would also much rather work than have to rely on Bethesda Project for support. Many have completed various levels of higher education, ranging from an undergraduate degree to even a Master’s degree. Simply put, lack of family support and having a difficult time recovering from an addiction, depression, or loss of employment does not mean that someone is not able to live independently, and Bethesda Project is here to help those who have a difficult time with these issues recover and get back on their feet.
Some facts about the homeless that people might not know according to the website Social Solutions include the following:
-More than 500,000 people in the United States are homeless.
-1.4 Million Veterans are at risk of homelessness.
-50% of the homeless population is over the age of 50.
-8% of the homeless population are in fact veterans.
-110,000 LGBTQ youth in the United States are homeless.
Given all of these facts, homelessness is likely to touch every single person across the country in one way or another. While some may have more personal experience with it than others, it is important to understand why it is a problem, how it impacts someones life, and what we can do to help.