Homelessness is on the decline in the U.S., but people who are still living without shelter say the raging stigma they face hasn’t changed much at all.
BuzzFeed recently interviewed a number of homeless people to give them the chance to address the standard stereotypes passersby are quick to label them with, and dispelled each one.
“I’m not a drug addict,” one person shared.
“I’ve never committed a crime,” said another.
“I’m not a sociopath or a homicidal raging maniac,” a woman quipped.
Across the U.S., 578,424 people were homeless on a single night last year, a 10 percent drop since 2010, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s most recent estimates.
But what those figures don’t reveal is how homelessness can affect anyone, yet people on the streets are often treated with distaste.
“Anyone can be homeless at any moment,” one person noted in the video.
In the U.S., 44 percent of people without shelter are employed, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless’ 2009 estimates. And the Corporation for Enterprise Development found in 2012 that an overwhelming number of Americans are one major financial blow away from living below the poverty line.
According to the report, 43 percent of households in America are liquid-asset poor. So, if these households face a layoff, a medical emergency or other significant financial issue, they could fall below the poverty line within three months.
Yet, while homeless people are often just those who have faced a string of bad luck or were victims of abuse or other calamities, people on the streets are overwhelmingly targeted and the streets have become an increasingly dangerous place.
Homeless people experienced a 23 percent surge in targeted attacks in 2013, compared to the year earlier.
But more than money or sympathy, the homeless people interviewed want others to know that they are just people.
“We’re all human,” one homeless person shared. “We’re not trash.”
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