Most people when they hear "homeless people" have a vision in their mind about what that looks like.
Believe it or not, this image is one of the fundamental obstacles in the way to us ending it.
People traditionally think homelessness = drugs, laziness, low IQ, mental illness... any number of things. Although some of that is valid, consider that those circumstances are primarily a side-effect, and not the source.
There are many reasons for homelessness and it looks differently for many people.
A friend of mine who is an international musician and very well respected community member sent me a donation for the UMATT3R project out of the blue and in the note she said that in her 20s, her house had burned down and she spent 6 months in hotels before being able to begin to secure housing again.
Another friend of mine had the same thing happen in the last month. An outside fire caught her canopy on fire which caught her roof on fire. Her and her 4 kids have been in and out of hotels, working with the Red Cross, and only now (with insurance mind you and income!) able to begin to rebuild.
She had a full network of people who could come to her aid and was still overwhelmed by the circumstances.
Now imagine you're 17 without that type of resource base. You have no family, or if you have a family, you're traditionally unwanted by them.
Now imagine going to get a job and being told you have to have an address to even begin the application.
Think about that: you have to have an address to get a job to get an address. Oh, and you need a parent signature or co-signer who will put up the beginning payments for you to get the address to get the job to pay for the address.
Exhausting just to think about?
Imagine living it.
There are people who are professionally homeless. However, the other 65+% aren't there by choice. Especially if you're a young adult.
One of the solutions to homelessness is for us to begin to challenge our unconscious bias about what homelessness looks like. The best weapon for that is education.
Want to learn more about why homelessness exists? Click here.