Many people are misinformed about the homeless – what caused their homelessness, what they’re doing – or not doing – to alleviate that situation and what the effect is on the rest of society. We offer the following facts as “myth busters:”
Myth 1: Many people believe the homeless are lazy, do-nothing sponges living off taxpayers’ hard earned dollars.
Fact: Nothing could be further from the truth. The vast majority of homeless people who enter Freedom House have been hard-working individuals who fell on hard times due to unforeseen and unplanned for circumstances, such as losing a job, having a catastrophic illness with no health insurance, or being abandoned by the employed parent. Consider the following:
- 95% of Freedom House’s budget comes from donations from individuals, organizations or corporations. Only 5% is government funded.
Fact: At Freedom House, we hold our residents accountable and responsible.
- Every resident is expected to complete daily chores; we offer structured living and rules, including behavioral rules that must be followed or they are asked to leave.
- All families set goals and are held accountable to achieve those goals each and every week. Each parent resident is required to make a minimum of 15 job contacts per week, 15 housing contacts per week and save 75% of their income in a savings account for a “nest egg” upon graduation.
- All adults are required to take budgeting/finance and parenting classes; teens take character-building classes and kids are held accountable for learning at their level as well. Children are taught healthy decision making, relationship training and anger management techniques.
Fact: Truth be told, more than 70% of Americans are 1-2 paychecks away from being homeless. Most of the families we see thought they’d never wind up on the street either.
Fact: Actually, Freedom House serves a cross section of ethnic groups, mirroring the population at large. Fully 40% of residents are Caucasian, 34% are African American; 15% are American Indian and 11% fall into “other” categories, including 4% multiracial (14% of total are Hispanic/Latino).
Myth 5: People who wind up in a homeless shelter have “screwed up” and need someone to take care of them until they can scrape enough money together to get them back on their feet.
Fact: Homelessness is not a result of simply running out of money. There are usually much deeper issues that grow out of poor learned habits, childhood abuse or neglect, or a lack of proper instruction on how a family and household should operate. These issues, when left unchecked, can lead to repeated mistakes, creating a cycle of poverty. At Freedom House we are committed to breaking that cycle of homelessness and replacing it with hope.
Fact: It may not be as “visible” as in large urban areas, but homelessness is a serious challenge in our area. Since we TRIPLED our capacity to serve homeless families with children in 2004, we’ve had a waiting list EVERY DAY, large enough to completely fill a second facility of the same size. Consider the following:
As of April 8, 2013, there were 67 families in Brown County waiting to be admitted to Freedom House and another 35 families in outlaying areas desiring the same. We have the space to house up to12 families at Freedom House at one time.
More than 1,055 children were reported homeless in Brown County as of March 2013. It’s gone up by more than 100 in each of the past 5 school years. (600 students in the area were reported homeless in 2008.)
Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population and now represent over 40% of homeless people in our area.