Attitudes Towards Homelessness
Posted on 14th February 2020 at 15:11
According to a new report published by Crisis, the housing and homeless sector needs to change attitudes towards homelessness if it is to convince the public that it can be ended.
The study shows that the public hold a specific view about who is ‘really’ homeless and how they came to be there. Both the homeless sector and the media play a role in supporting these views.
While experts see homelessness as a range of insecure housing, the public tend to equate it with rough sleeping. These are often stereotypes of the middle-aged male rough sleeper, the young person kicked out of the family home or the woman fleeing domestic violence.
Homelessness can affect many types of people
This limited view prevents people from seeing homelessness as a broad social issue that affects many kinds of people. Instead, they see homeless people as victims who become homeless through poor choices or bad luck. Any link with poverty, a lack of affordable housing or wider social forces is almost completely lost.
The sector and media often support and encourage these views by telling incomplete stories. This undermines any calls for wider social change.
Recommendations for change
The study outlines a series of recommendations for the sector to change attitudes towards homelessness. These include work to:
Challenge the public’s image of a ‘typical’ homeless person
Discuss the social and economic conditions that shape people’s experiences
Talk about the societal impact of homelessness as well as the individual
Encourage the belief that collective action can drive change
The public will begin to change their thinking about homelessness and the media will stop reinforcing these patterns of thinking. Attitudes should start to make the connection of homelessness to larger economic forces such as rising housing costs, wage stagnation and the unemployment rate.
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