For awhile now I have been putting my photography skills and effort into focusing on the realities of homelessness and attempting to break the stereotypes that plague the homeless here in Las Vegas.
Some of these people are addicted to drugs or alcohol, some are just doing the best they can with what life dealt them. I have met some that were just waiting around to die and others that were happy to be alive and had better attitudes than people I know that have millions stashed away in the bank.
Homeless people are just like us, I wonder why so many people forget that?
Some homeless facts:
On any given night in America, anywhere from 700,000 to 2 million people are homeless.
Single men comprise 44 percent of the homeless, single women 13 percent, families with children 36 percent, and unaccompanied minors seven percent.
The homeless population of the US is about 50 percent African-American, 35 percent white, 12 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Native American and 1 percent Asian.
28 percent said they sometimes or often do not get enough to eat
22 percent have been physically assaulted.
38 percent say someone stole money or things directly from them.
30 percent have been homeless for more than two years.
40% of homeless men have served in the armed forces
Approximately 20-25% of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness
The average age is 40 – women tend to be younger.
An estimated 20% are physically disabled.
40% of homeless women are unaccompanied / have no partner
25% of homeless women claim to have been abused within the past year.
22% of homeless women claim domestic abuse as reason for their homelessness
Families are the largest and fastest growing segment of the homeless population.
10% of homeless people are under the age of 12
48% graduated from high school; 32% had a bachelor degree or higher
Pertaining to homelessness, I hope that people remember a couple things.
When dealing with homeless people always lead with your heart, but don’t leave your good sense behind. Only do those things which you know for certain will work towards moving homeless people out of homelessness. Often, people will do things for homeless people in hopes of doing some good, but their efforts end up doing more harm than good. If you don’t know for certain that your efforts will move homeless people towards something positive, it’s better to do nothing at all.
Regardless of what a homeless person might say, no one ever wants to be homeless. Given the hand that life has dealt them, homeless people may believe that being homeless is the best situation to be in. The truth, though, is that these people need to be dealt new cards, and given another chance of having a worthwhile life.
There is a lot of misinformation circulating regarding homelessness. Some of it comes from people who hate, or are afraid of, homeless people. Yet some of it comes from the homeless and homeless advocates themselves. Truth is difficult to discern, even in the best of circumstances. In the realm of homelessness, (such as in war), “truth” is the first casualty. Still, I believe whole heartedly in the idea that “the truth will set you free.” Help homeless people discover the truth about themselves and you’ll free them from the condition that prevents them from getting the help they need.
The best thing you can give a homeless person is yourself, your time, your friendship, your genuine concern. Homeless people feel alone and ostracized from society. Knowing that they are still accepted by society, that they are welcome to rejoin the community, is vital.
Want to help? Yes, you can make a difference!
Ever think about donating something to one of the homeless shelters? It is a safe and sure way to help those you see that are living on the street. Below are a few of the homeless shelters that I support. Please do what you can and remember, you DO make a difference.