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Opinion: Homelessness, a systematic problem 

AJ Kohler reporter  

Most people see the homeless as lazy, mentally ill, welfare hogs, thieves etc. When amongst other things that is not a one-sided issue. There are several reasons both personal and systemic to why people end up homeless.  

To begin, starting with some misconceptions. Homeless people are criminals is a notion that is simply not true, and it depends on your definition of what a crime is. To some people theft is a moral wrong period. To which I refute stealing to stay alive is not a crime. You should not lock up a person for taking things they need to survive. Stealing is not morally wrong if it is for your survival and not all homeless people steal but they have it harder than people who do.  

Furthermore in 2017 there have been 83 anti-homeless attacks with 37 people losing their lives. 1 in 3 homeless people have had violence inflicted on them while they are homeless. According to NationalHomelessness.org “There have been 1,184 acts of violence committed by housed individuals against homeless people, resulting in 312 deaths and 872 victims of non-lethal violence”.  

 Another myth is that homeless people are lazy, which is untrue. In 2021, the University of Chicago did a study that showed that in fact 53% of homeless people in shelters and 40% of unhoused people are employed with either a part- or full-time job. 

All homeless people are mentally ill. Some people who are homeless are mentally ill, while others are not. Just because someone is homeless, that does not make them mentally ill. 20-25% of homeless people experience a severe mental illness compared to 6% of housed persons. Reasons as to why are amazingly simple. One being homeless can make a mental illness worse. Two, you are more likely to be homeless with a mental illness with a mental illness in the United States because of Health Care costs amongst other reasons.  

 We do not live in a capitalist system because that would state that if the companies crash, you let them crash. We live in a Corporate Welfare state where the government bails out a company who benefits their workers very minimally. Money should come with conditions not handed out without considerable thought. 

Housing First is the best approach not only to help the homeless but for everyone. What is housing first? Well to put it simply, housing first is the practice of providing housing before one’s other needs. A report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) states that clients in Housing First programs experienced a median 41% greater housing stability, a median 88% greater decrease in homelessness, a median 5% greater improvement in quality of life, and a median 5% greater reduction in emergency department use compared with clients in control groups. Also, with further less time incarcerated as well.  

Overall, homelessness is not a simple or one-sided problem, and will not be solved with a simple and one-sided solution. Many different people of various perspectives and ideas will have to come together to help find ways to help those who are homeless.  

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