I struggled when deciding whether or not to use this article as today’s Article of the Day because I don’t feel that it does a great job of accurately depicting individuals experiencing homelessness. Unfortunately, the article reads as if author began his investigation with some negative biases regarding this population. It does, however, address a growing epidemic that does not often make headline news: the ever-changing needs of the homeless population as they age. I wish the author had done a better job of using person-centered language and of informing the audience that individuals experiencing homelessness have their own unique stories and experiences, rather than making generalized statements that perpetuate stereotypes.
Teaser: At some point in the future I’ll be able to share some interesting stories that will hopefully provide you with insight and a new perspective into the diversity of this unique population. I am working on a project with my mentor and some colleagues conducting interviews with individuals moving from homelessness into transitional housing. Using mixed methods (both qualitative and quantitative data), we are attempting to gain insight into the ever-changing needs of the population as well as their unique life experiences, trials, tribulations, goals, supports, strengths, and successes. Words cannot adequately express how humbling it is to hear these stories and the excitement and motivation that I feel working on this project. Expect more to come in the future…
Important Facts and Article Takeaways
- “There were 306,000 people over 50 living on the streets in 2014, the most recent data available, a 20 percent jump since 2007, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. They [individuals over the age of 50] now make up 31 percent of the nation’s homeless population.” (Nagourney, 2016)
- “It is the emergence of an older homeless population that is creating daunting challenges for social service agencies and governments already struggling with this crisis of poverty.” (Nagourney, 2016)
- “We are dealing with the same issues with a 50-year-old that a housed person would have in their 70s, in terms of physical and mental health,” said Anne Miskey, the executive director of the Downtown Women’s Center, which provides services for 3,000 homeless women a year in Los Angeles. “It is extremely difficult. And women are affected more than men.” (Nagourney, 2016)
Link to Today’s Article of The Day
You can find the article here: Old and on the Street: The Graying of America’s Homeless
For additional information, check out The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress.
Call to Action
- Confront your own biases and the stereotypes that you hold. Chances are, if you think “all individuals experiencing homelessness are…(insert your word here)”, you’re wrong. I encourage you to pause and use this time for self-reflection. Ask yourself where your own thoughts and behaviors come from , find the source of your socialization , and address your misconceptions, misinformation, and myths . Re-frame your thoughts, re-educate yourself, cease self‐blame, and be open to change.
- Use person-centered and non-discriminatory language. Individuals experiencing homelessness rather than homeless people. A person is not defined by his/her housing status. Removing the labels allows us to connect on the basis that we are all humans. We are all worthy of dignity and respect.
What do you think? Comment below.
Be the change,
Picture credit: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD], 2015. The 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) to Congress