6 Myths about homelessness dispelled

1. Most homeless people are middle-aged men.

While last year’s Point in Time survey of Dauphin County’s homeless population did not take into account exact ages, females made up the majority of the population. In 2012, 58.9% (159) of Dauphin County’s homeless population were females, and 41.1% (111) were males. Also, there were 127 homeless children counted in the 2012 Point in Time census.

2. Homeless people need to “just get a job.”

According to our Point in Time survey last year, 19.6% (55) of the area’s homeless population were employed. There are many resources available to help these individuals find jobs, but finding a job with limited resources, such as lack of home or transportation, makes the process more difficult.

3. People are homeless by choice.

No one chooses to be homeless – many factors can make any individual suddenly homeless. During our 2012 census, it was discovered that drug or alcohol abuse, family breakup, medical problem, and domestic violence were the top reasons for being homeless in Dauphin County. 24% said that drug or alcohol abuse was the top reason, followed by family breakup (16%), medical problems (9%), and domestic violence (8%).

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Homelessness can effect anyone, including families with children. Last year, there were 127 children homeless in Harrisburg and Dauphin County. Pictured above are two homeless children at CACH’s Project Homeless Connect last year.

4. Homelessness will never happen to me.

Many people never intend or expect to become homeless. Many had jobs, a house, and a family before they became homeless. According to facts from our Homeless Services Reference Manual, the odds of anyone experiencing homelessness over the course of a year is approximately 1 in 194.

We also discovered through our Point in Time survey that there were 63 households with children who were homeless. This meant that 23% of the area’s homeless population last year consisted of homeless families.

5.  Homeless people all come from the City.

Nearly half (46.3%) of people receiving homelessness assistance lived outside the City of Harrisburg, according to last year’s Point in Time survey.  –

6. Homelessness will never end.

Many cities in the U.S. have established 10-year plans to end homelessness that include very ambitious goals, according to the Portland Rescue Mission. CACH is in charge of Harrisburg’s plan, which is a 10-year blueprint plan to eliminate homelessness in Harrisburg and Dauphin County.

This plan, called “Home Run,” serves for us to develop initiatives that are necessary to prevent and eliminate homelessness in the community.  Every day, every week, all year long, CACH works to change the lives of our community’s homeless.

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