The Stigmatization of Homelessness
Knowing about the pressing issue of homelessness and the importance of action in this area, our team conducted interviews with nonprofits, homeless shelter providers, and people with lived experience of homelessness to identify societal needs. Each person we spoke with mentioned increased rates of loneliness and isolation among unhoused individuals, and many people highlighted the stigma and stereotypes that worsen it, which correlated with industry reports.
According to the Project Inclusion study by Pivot Legal Society, stigma causes unhoused people to feel isolated, which prevents them from seeking the resources they need to escape homelessness. It creates a vicious cycle which traps people in a state of permanent disconnection from society, “[disqualifying] people and groups from social acceptance and social equity.”
Therefore, any solution to the pressing housing crisis must first address the stigmatization of homelessness at its roots so that society can collectively and permanently solve homelessness.
Bennett, Darcie, and DJ Larkin. “Project Inclusion.” Edited by Jackie Wong. pp. 4-6, online: https://www.pivotlegal.org/project_inclusion_full.
Why do we use the term "unhoused"?
We use the term “unhoused” when referring to those experiencing homelessness as a way of demonstrating empathy. “Homeless” suggests that being without a home is the individual’s fault and, therefore, their problem to solve; however, this term is often associated with negative stereotypes and images that force us to look at people experiencing homelessness from a skewed lens. Referring to an individual as being “unhoused” suggests that not having a home is not a result of the choices that they have made but, rather, a situation that a person was forced into by falling between the cracks of society.
Read about Challenging the Stigmatization of Homelessness,
written by one of our workshop consultants, Nicolas Crier, who shares his lived experience and insights