Common Myths About Homelessness
Homelessness in both Dallas and Collin Counties is on the rise. According to the 2018 annual homeless census, over 4,000 individuals and children are homeless - an increase of 9 percent from 2017.
Recently, I received an article from Austin Street Center regarding common myths about homelessness. As you well may know, there are multiple factors that contribute to homelessness, but dispelling myths is important as we understand homelessness, gain facts and demonstrate Christ’s love in the community.
Myth: HOMELESS PEOPLE ARE LAZY AND DON’T WANT TO WORK.
Between 40 and 60 percent of homeless adults have some form of full-time or part-time employment. Often income is not sufficient to afford housing and associated expenses. Austin Street Center provides a clean, safe shelter in the evenings for many who are the “working poor.”
Myth: GETTING A MINIMUM WAGE JOB WILL BY ITSELF KEEP SOMEONE OUT OF HOMELESSNESS.
This myth is a big one in my mind! The minimum wage in Texas is $7.25 an hour. If an individual worked 40 hours per week for the entire year, without any sick time or vacation….. their annual income would be $15,080. Studies alone have shown that a combined family income would need to be $25.00 per hour just to meet basic expenses (housing, food, childcare, etc.). Minimum wage is not enough.
Myth: HOMELESSNESS IS ALWAYS RELATED TO MENTAL ILLNESS.
In fact, one in five sheltered homeless suffers from mental illness. Many suffer increase in symptoms AFTER they become homeless. At Austin Street Center, it is estimated that 40 percent of clients claim some mental health issue. But when asked about needs - shelter and food are top needs expressed by those who are homeless.
To read more about myths and homelessness, please go to the Austin Street Shelter website at www.austinstreet.org.