The Onion Debunks Myths about Homelessness Including Panhandling, Substance Abuse and More
A recent satirical article from The Onion, “Myth Vs. Fact: Homeless” published on June 12, debunked the many myths of homelessness. Even though over half a million Americans experience homelessness on an average night, homelessness is a problem that is still often misunderstood by the general public and even elected officials.
The first myth is that “It’s expensive to house the homeless.”
While many Americans wish we could put roofs over everyone’s head, they say that the costs are simply too large. In reality, our nation spends much more money on the prison and jail systems than on programs to address homelessness. In fact, our prison system is quite profitable.
Why would Americans not want to save money that is spent on prisons and jails and instead provide the housing and support services needed to keep people from needlessly cycling through prisons, jails, homeless shelters, and hospital emergency departments?
Many Americans are against giving money to the homeless since they are worried that individuals experiencing homelessness will “spend their money on drugs and alcohol.” Some Americans believe that homeless individuals can “make hundreds of dollars panhandling” which is money that they simply do not deserve. In reality, almost all of the money made panhandling goes to the IRS due to the panhandler’s tax status as independent contractors.
A classic misconception about the homeless is that they are mentally unstable and can be a danger to themselves and others.
In fact, most Americans refuse to even make eye contact with the homeless, worried they, those passing by, could bring attention to themselves and enter into harm’s way. This stereotype is false- people who are homeless are much more likely to be the victims of crimes than the perpetrators of crime.
Another major stereotype about the homeless population is that they are lazy, unmotivated, and do not want to work. The Onion teases its readers by claiming, “Nobody wants a job.” Many Americans also think that the homeless are not interested in improving their lives.
In order to rise above these misconceptions, Americans need to put themselves in the shoes of those who are homeless. Anyone can be plagued by homelessness and most often, homelessness is caused by events that are out of their control such as job loss, death in the family, addiction, and more.
If you are interested in learning more about the true stories of those who have been impacted by homelessness and the reality of homelessness, you should attend the 2018 Congressional Reception, where individuals will be speaking on how they became homeless.
On July 25th, a Congressional Reception will be held at the Dirksen Senate Auditorium in Washington D.C. This event will allow New Jersey Residents who are working poor, below the poverty line and or impacted by homelessness to urge their elected officials in Washington to make No Cuts to Housing and remind them that pOportunity Starts at Home.