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Don't Judge the Homeless

"People who know they are important, think about others. People who think they are important, think about themselves." - Hans F. Hansen

Instead of judgment, why not give homeless people compassion? After all, we do not know their individual story that has led to their current condition. Today, many people judge the homeless as having "chosen" their circumstance as a result of drug or alcohol use or laziness. But many of these people have served their country as veterans, are victims of mental illness or abuse, or simply have fallen on hard times that have nothing to do with their own personal decisions.

The next time you see a homeless person on the side of the road, don't ask yourself what they have done to put them in that situation. Instead, consider what our society has failed to do - whether by providing adequate health care, etc. If you worry about handing out money that may encourage drug abuse, why not consider other ways to help needy people?

Up to 3.5 million people are homeless each year, which translates to about 842,000 people per week. These figures comprise about 1% of the total population in the U.S., or about 10% of its poor.

Consider these startling homelessness statistics:

  • 40% are families with children
  • 24% are married
  • 49% are African American (over-represented compared to 11% of general population)
  • 35% are Caucasian (under-represented compared to 75% of general population)
  • 22% are considered to have serious mental illness or are disabled
  • 30% have substance abuse problems.
  • 46% report chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer.

Causes of Homelessness

According to the United States Conference of Mayors, the main cause is the lack of affordable housing. Other major causes of homelessness include:

  • mental illness
  • substance abuse
  • low-paying jobs
  • unemployment
  • domestic violence
  • prisoner release
  • poverty

Helpless Homeless Children

Even if you cannot help yourself from casting some blame on homeless people for their situation, I hope that you at least consider that homeless children are entirely innocent and should be assisted to the best of our abilities.

Sadly, many children are counted among homeless people. In fact, about 39% of the total homeless population in the United States are kids under the age of 18. Consider that figure - nearly 1/2 of those that are homeless are children. How can we blame them for their plight?

Homeless children represent the most helpless of our homeless population. They have literally been born into the cycle without bearing any blame for their situation. While many social systems can help these unfortunate children, including food stamps, school meal programs and the like, there are few programs that can help put a roof under kids' heads.

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