Homelessness is a social problem that is easily misunderstood in a number of regions across the world, including the US. Society makes associates the homeless with negative attributes that often contribute to their isolation from other members. It is true that homelessness make individuals live under undeserving or dehumanizing conditions, but this does not make them less human than anyone else. This research paper seeks to discuss the current popular delusions concerning homelessness in the US by analyzing the causes and explaining the facts behind such practices.

Historical records prove that there has never been a time when society had no people living in conditions less ideal for, human survival. From the middle ages, there have been reports about people who go without food and many who have neither shelter nor a proper place to sleep. Genova has, therefore, developed a fixed negative opinion concerning the homeless which extends the belief that they are out-group, deserving no sympathy. Supporting a report by Guenova 2009, Wisehart et al. state that the homeless are considered disabled, filthy, aggressive, smelly and dangerous baggers. This has been observed to minimize chances that they can access a positive change because it exposes them to stigmatization and dehumanization. It is evident that most problems the homeless suffer are external, but the society makes these challenges appear more mental than physical. The most common myths about the homeless include claims that all are criminals, too lazy to work, have gone to the street willingly or that they ended up in the streets because of wrong choices and that the life they lead is filled with freedom and leisure.

Homelessness is a problem that affects American population and has high chances of extending into the future. According to PIT Estimates of the homeless people, 610,042 individuals were homeless in 2013. Out of these more than 65% lived in either emergency shelters or under transitional housing programs. Above 35% lived out of shelters and in places such as under bridges, inside cars or inside buildings that had been abandoned (Meghan, Alvaro & Sean 6). Homelessness affects all society members regardless of age. PIT Estimates 2013 also reported that the homeless population was composed of more than 67% who were 25 years old and above, 10% from 18 to 24 years old, and 23% were children below 18 years. The problem seems to be more prevalent in urban centres than in increased rural areas. The number of homeless individuals increases by approximately 5% between 2012 and 2013 in major cities, according to CoC. There were an extra 8% of unsheltered individuals in the major cities (20). A study in January 2013 found that 58% of the beds available in ES, TH, RRH and PSH programs were for homeless people in shelters.

The assumption that homeless people are on the street for the same reason is a misconception. There are several different reasons that make individuals become homeless. A recent US Conference of Mayors reported that the main causes of homelessness in major cities across America included a lack of affordable housing, unemployment, poverty, and low wages (National Law Center 3). Some people also leave home due to parents’ abuse of drugs and alcoholism, which make such parents aggressive and violent towards other family members. Others may also leave home after being victims of abuse for example, rape victims (Fischer 234). Some leave home because of mental illness while others become homeless because of drug addiction, especially those that live in families where drug use is prohibited.

Contrary to the common myths that are held by the society members, the homeless are not willingly in the streets. The National Low Income Housing Coalition found that the major reasons for homelessness was lack of affordable housing and shortage of housing assistance programs which have led to housing crisis. The recent increase in number of homeless people is linked to the foreclosure policies. A study on the homeless and poverty by National Law Center estimates that 2.5 to 3.5 million Americans are homeless and sleep in shelters, transitional housing or in public places, which are not suitable for human beings.

Together with these, another approximately 7.4 million have lost their homes and have joined the rest due to economic needs. Some of the causes of homelessness according to this report include low income and lack of affordable housing especially for individuals with extremely low incomes. These people are more likely to be left with less that half of their total income once they pay rent. This means that they do not have enough to buy food, medicine, pay for transportation or other needs. State and Local groups in 2008 reported 61% increase in homelessness out of which 40% resulted from foreclosure.

A study by Appelbaum et al. argues that rent controls have contributed to homelessness by impacting the housing market negatively. There is therefore a claim that it needs to be dismantled. These controls have discouraged investors in rental housing since it robs landlords of rightful returns, resulting in poor maintenance of buildings which are then abandoned. Even in places where rents are lowered, scarcity of houses remains a problem. Regardless of income levels, tenants in areas such as Santa Monica, Cambridge and Upper West of Manhattan are highly charged. In other areas the number of abandoned buildings continues to increase as the poor are left in the streets. Rent controls tend to minimize extreme rent increases but fail to control profits for landlords get encouraged to invest in private rental housing. This is the reason many recommend the use of moderate rent controls to do away with exorbitant rent increase though this type of controls depend on market conditions.

It is true that homeless people are frequently arrested and their inabilities to pay fines keep them in jail until the trial is over. The crimes they commit however are usually minor and less violent compared to activities of criminals who come from homes. In places within the US where homeless population is higher like Florida, Arkansas, Nevada and California, certain laws have been implemented to arrest the homeless following status crimes. The laws include a) individuals can be arrested for sleeping on a bench, sidewalk or rooftop, b) People can be arrested for sleeping outdoors, c) Individuals can be arrested for begging regardless of where they come from, and d) The homeless are not allowed to loiter around a business premise even if they have proper identification cards. The public is wrong to focus on the number of homeless people who get arrested without considering the real reasons for such arrests.

The description of the homeless as dangerous baggers makes the society think that arresting and punishing them is the solution to this social problem. This makes the people in homes appear to be victims of the homeless and is the reason the law enforcement system, particularly the police mistreat the homeless. Contrary to the public view, however, homelessness is a type of victimization in itself since the social structure deprives the homeless the protection enjoyed by others who lives in homes. The process of becoming homeless that occurs suddenly and the experience people go through during the transition is a stressor that can lead to psychological trauma. Historical records prove that homeless people have often been more victimized compared to those who have the resources they require to defend themselves. A study conducted on New York City shelters discovered that victimization is linked with health conditions but it is worse for those who are unsheltered. Safety is also of great concern to the homeless. Another study performed on a population in Manhattan shelters and streets led to the conclusion that the homeless fear attacks whether they are sheltered or in the streets. This is a proof that they are not as dangerous as the society thinks and they are human too because they fear for their safety.

In reality, the homeless incur more injuries from other society members yet they rarely cause harm. They face threats from the public and torture from the police. Such activities make them traumatized and have been blamed for the deaths as well as disabilities among the contemporary homeless. Studies show that the homeless people do not report such injustices because the police is less concerned about the plight of the homeless and highly concentrates on the needs of the general population. They as well fear going to the police to report since they are “enemies.” It is therefore incorrect to think that the life in the street of comfort and leisure. The police are always after these people to arrest them on account of slightest mistakes.

The claim that the homeless are in the street due to wrong choices is debatable. Even though some ended up in the street due to drug addiction, most of them have left homes because of ill treatment. It is not anybody’s wished to be poor, have alcoholic parent, lose a job, face unemployment, grow old or develop mental illness. These are unfortunate circumstances that can befall any member of the society. It is, therefore, sad that the society members target to harm homeless individuals with mental and physical illnesses. The police go after alcohol and drug users to arrest them, when they have resulted into such activities to deal with stress that the higher society members inflict on them.

Many people tend to think that the homeless people are incapable of leading normal life again but it is the challenges they face during transition that leads to relapse. Some desire to come out of homelessness but cannot get information about where to access help and advice due to socially exclusion. Though internet is commonly in use today, such resources are hardly available to the homeless. There is also lack of adequate accommodation for homeless people. The 2011 US Conference of Mayors reports that shelters were forced to send people away due to lack of space. The reason why some reject accommodation is because they are usually directed to regions away from where they presently stay. For fear of losing friends and living among strangers, they decide to choose social support in the street instead of housing. The social support provided by the homeless culture appears to be so strong that a person who has lived there is unable to forget the social connection and adopt a new lifestyle out of the street.