Myths About Homelessness

July 28, 2021

Myth: Homeless persons are homeless due to addiction or mental health problems

Whilst recent statistics from the UK indicate that approximately 80 per cent of homeless persons have mental health problems, these statistics obscure the complex reality of why people become homeless. 

Many factors, ranging from relationship breakdown to communication barriers, can contribute to an individual becoming homeless, and it is usually a combination of many of these at once. For example, an individual may leave an abusive relationship, may be new to the area and therefore may not speak the local language fluently. They may also lack a support network or awareness of what their community may be able to offer in terms of support. These combined factors may put an individual at risk of homelessness. 

Moreover, addiction and poor mental health can develop as an effect of being homeless. 

Myth: Homeless persons are uneducated and lack work skills and experience

Whilst in general homeless people in the UK tend to have fewer formal qualifications than the general population, this isn’t always the case. Homeless people may be highly educated individuals who have fallen onto difficult times, showing that homelessness really can happen to anyone.

Myth: Homeless persons are only those sleeping on streets or in temporary shelters

Whilst many homeless people in the UK sleep rough, there are many people who are ‘hidden homeless.’ These people are without permanent, secure housing, who are sleeping in friends' houses, hostels, rent-rooms, and other such arrangements. This lack of data distorts the demographics of homelessness, as rough sleepers are more likely to be male and older than the overall homeless population.

Source: Vance, British Council



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