Homelessness has emerged as a global problem for many decades now. Although a lot of efforts are being made to eliminate homelessness, little is done to reduce the bias facing the people experiencing homelessness. The stigma associated with homelessness often leads to different types of discrimination which is also not given enough attention. In other words, experiencing homelessness is now seen as a crime.
Can you imagine living in a situation where you have zero privacy and no permission to carry out basic activities or access primary life resources? People experiencing homelessness are already suffering a lot. Living on a street the whole time is not easy. When they try to find safe and stable housing, they’re denied because of reasons such as criminal history, alcohol and drug addiction, mental instability, or simply because they don’t have money. They are also not given jobs due to similar reasons. Not only this, many other basic activities of life such as sleeping, camping, eating, sitting, or asking for resources in public places have been criminalized in different areas of the country. The negative perspective towards people experiencing homelessness is so deeply rooted in our society that we often don’t view them as regular human beings worthy of trust and respect.
Have you ever thought about the things we can do to reduce this discrimination against those experiencing homelessness? How can we make their lives a little easier? Here are some things that we can do to help them come out of the discrimination and stigmatization associated with homelessness.
First things first: the choice of our words matters. That being said, the way we talk about those living on the streets contributes a lot to how we see them. We at The Joshua Wave, do our best to make sure that we replace the word ‘homeless’ with the phrase ‘individuals experiencing homelessness’. Calling them ‘homeless’ puts a label on them which kind of sounds permanent. However, saying ‘individuals experiencing homelessness’ removes the label and sounds more like a situation that can be changed. This can help change people’s perspective toward those experiencing homelessness and so bias against them.
If you want to reduce bias against people experiencing homelessness but have little to zero resources to initiate a program on your own, you may start by connecting with a local homeless advocacy coalition and staying updated on what advocates in other communities and cities are doing. By doing this, you’ll be able to come up with positive innovative solutions to reduce the bias against those experiencing homelessness. As an advocate, you’ll be able to educate your leaders and various sectors of the community. You can propose positive changes to the policies and programs built for those experiencing homelessness. Advocacy is one strong tool to make change happen on a bigger scale to not end homelessness but also change society’s perception toward such individuals.
Nonprofit awareness campaigns are a great way to educate our community about basic human rights and how those without homes should also be guaranteed the same rights. A not-for-profit awareness campaign allows you to communicate your message in a way digestible to the audience. You can shed light on how people experiencing homelessness are discriminated against basic necessities of life and how it has an even detrimental effect on their lives as well as society. Such awareness campaigns also tend to have a broader reach and greater impact. In short, awareness campaigns are the best tool to touch people’s hearts and minds and induce a change in their perspective toward individuals experiencing homelessness.
If you’re a person who’s usually curious about finding answers and solutions to questions and problems, you can become a Researcher at one of the local or national nonprofit organizations. Research is something that can be done working online and so you may not necessarily have to volunteer in person. Research may help you and your organization understand the psychological reasoning behind people discriminating against those living on the streets, laws to prevent illegal discrimination, and/or find out what other peaceful countries are doing to overcome this problem. Research may also open doors of opportunity to bring awareness and change in the society by proposing solutions to your local, state, or federal government.
These are the few things we can do to help reduce the bias against individuals experiencing homelessness. It is important that each one of us takes part in making others’ lives better. A small act of kindness goes a long way. If someone has shown us even a little kindness, it becomes our duty to pay it forward so the cycle of displaying compassion continues. If you know of any other or better ways to help reduce the bias against those experiencing homelessness, drop them down in the comments below.