As housing prices increase and the cost of living continues to rise, homelessness in Los Angeles is becoming a bigger and bigger conversation topic. When confronted with a conversation about homelessness, you may hear a lot of ideas being thrown around about what actually drives people to homelessness and what homeless programs really do for people. The Midnight Mission is an LA homeless shelter that has been providing homeless services on Skid Row since 1914. We have first hand experience with what homelessness is like, and we have heard our fair share of myths about homeless people. We’ve put together a list of common myths about homelessness so we can clear up some of the misconceptions about the struggles that these members of our community face, and so you can stay informed on the truth about homelessness.
Myth #1 – There will always be homelessness. We will never solve it:
There are many effective ways to combat homelessness in our city, including permanent supportive housing, transitional housing, emergency shelters and targeted affordable housing assistance for homeless families. Homeless programs like these have been employed with great success in Los Angeles and other cities around the country.
Myth #2 – Homelessness is a jobs problem, and some people just don’t want to work:
Homelessness is primarily a housing problem, namely, that the housing affordability gap is increasing (the gap between average income and average housing costs). This is why more and more homeless people have jobs but are unable to afford housing for themselves or their families.
Myth #3 – All Homeless People Are Mentally Ill or Addicts:
The primary cause of homelessness is actually lack of affordable housing. In Los Angeles 16% of homelessness consists of homeless families and 9% of homeless people are children. Studies show that only a small percent of adults in homeless families suffer from serious mental disorders or addiction.
Myth #4 – Housing assistance causes more people to enter homeless shelters:
There is a widespread myth that providing housing assistance allows more people to stop working and increases the number of people entering LA homeless shelters. In reality, providing housing assistance allows homeless people to get back on their feet, get support through homeless programs, and to eventually move out of the shelter.
Myth #5 – Regulating housing rent increases everyone else’s rent and gives breaks to people who don’t need it:
Affordable housing is a need for many people in Los Angeles, and is often the next step after being in a LA homeless shelter. One in four people in rent regulated housing in NYC live below the poverty line, and many more live just above it.