Saturday, March 1, 2014

Should You Be Afraid Of Homeless People

The short answer to the question, "Should you be afraid of homeless people?" is "No."  There is absolutely no proof whatsoever that homeless people are any more dangerous than any other group or kind of people.

Certainly some homeless people are unhappy with their life circumstance and will express their anger with anti-social behavior. Sometimes, interactions with homeless people are not pleasant.  But as far as homeless people actually being dangerous or harmful to others, well, they are no different than any other people.   Anyone who says anything to the contrary isn't being honest.

Prejudices, fear mongering, generalizations, etc., are constants in society, and we must be diligent to make ourselves aware of them, and combat them with truth, whenever they arise.  Media is responsible for most of these problems, as they are motivated by money to exaggerate and distort the truth.  Outrageous stories, and controversy,drives readership, and readership is how media makes money.   Sadly, these problems with media have so saturated society that many people take them as natural and believe them to have a purpose in their lives.   They hear a fear mongerer's story, and think they are doing a good service by repeating and spreading that story.

Watch closely the next time the local news reports on a crime story involving a homeless person.  Listen to how much the media focuses on a criminal being homeless.  It's usually the lead of their story.   You never hear a news reporter say, "Man With Home Commits Crime"   A head line like that is meaningless.  By the way media reports on crime, one would think they want everyone believing they are about to be victims of crime.   The truth is, the majority of people will never be victims of a serious crime, ever, homeless or not.  Sure, crime does happen, but it is no cause to spend one's life cowering at home, afraid to go outside, afraid to meet people, and enjoy life.

But, I digress a little.

I just did a google news search of the key words "homeless attack". Of the first ten links, 2 were articles about a homeless person attacking someone - the other 8 were of people attacking the homeless.   If anything, we can deduce that it is much more dangerous to be homeless than to be a person who engages the homeless.

Still, all of this would be a moot point if we just start working to end homelessness instead of only tending to the temporary and superficial needs of the homeless.   There is a great deal of data now available that proves  ending homelessness, (by putting homeless people directly into their own homes, small apartments/efficiencies/SROs etc) is much more cost effective, than trying to address homeless people's daily needs.

The experts in the field of homelessness suggest that instead of supporting a homeless shelter that people  instead work directly on housing the homeless.   Have you seen the work done by "How's Nashville"? http://howsnashville.org/  This is the future of homeless advocacy - bringing homelessness to an end - it is actually a do-able thing.   So, the question of whether or not homeless people are dangerous won't be asked anymore, and instead each person will be judged on his own character.

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