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The Perception Of The Homeless Essay

2212 words - 9 pages

There are over 3.5 million homeless people in the United States alone (National Student Campaign against Hunger and Homelessness). Within this amount of people there are challenges beyond not having a home that the majority of citizens with a home do not face. These include: thinking about appearance, quality and source of food, living space, and source of money. Those mentioned are just a few things that non-homeless people may overlook when thinking about the challenges of homelessness. As a nation the way we perceive others around us comes into play here. Intentionally or not, homeless people are often judged based on their situation, rather than who they are. This may exist due to the communication barrier between the homeless and non-homeless. In order to move away from judgment and stereotypes, education on the subject of homelessness is vital.
The first time homelessness was recognized in the US was as early as 1640. Homelessness was seen as moral problem, and character was brought in to question. One of the major religions of the time was the Christian faith. It was believed that a good Christian would be taken care of by God, and all needs would be met. If one was not acting as a “good Christian” then their needs were not met. Therefore due to the fact the homeless did not have their needs met, they were viewed as bad people. (Downtown Congregations to End Homelessness) Robert Fischer, author of the article The History of Homelessness 1640 to the Present, pointed out:
Today, those experiencing homelessness has nothing to do with a person’s intrinsic worth. Homelessness is a complex social issue with many variables. Unfortunately, for those experiencing homelessness, the impact of the values of the 1640s are still pervasive. In America many still hold to this tenet, that one only needs to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and into the pursuit of the American dream and for those who cannot, they deserve to be destitute for they bring no ‘added value’ to society.
The idea of the American dream creates a stereotype for the way people should live in the United States. This feeds into the myths of homelessness. A common myth is that homeless people are lazy and do not work hard enough to try and escape homelessness. “The media increasingly influences our views, attitudes, and opinions about poverty and the people living in it- portraying them as lazy, drunk, oversexed, ignorant buffoons who continuously make bad choices” (Beegle 57). The idea that homelessness stems from “bad choices” is common, when truly there are numerous barriers preventing an escape from homelessness. Without a place to sleep, shower, eat, and meet basic needs, maintaining a job, social life, and money is nearly impossible. Research shows that in the United States society places a high importance on appearance. To determine where someone belongs they are often judged according to their housing, their job, or the clothing they wear. (Beegle 47). This attitude...

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