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Myths about people facing homelessness

Myth 1: Homeless people are responsible for their own predicament

False! Homelessness is a multidimensional and complex problem. It is the product of a variety of interwoven structural and individual factors such as lack of adequate and affordable accommodation, loss of employment, sexual abuse, hazardous drug and alcohol use, grief and loss, domestic violence, family breakdown and mental health. No one chooses to be homeless.

Myth 2: Homeless people are “bludgers” who leech off the system

False! Many of those affected by homelessness go on to resume productive employment, become stabilised in housing once secured and enter into voluntary work.

Myth 3: Homeless people have no skills

False! Homeless people come from all walks of life and many have worked in highly paid professions and careers prior to becoming homeless. A lot of homeless people possess untapped artistic and creative talents. George Orwell, very famous writer, experienced homelessness. 

Myth 4: There is already plenty of affordable accommodation available for homeless people

False! Numerous reports and reviews across both government and non-government sectors have highlighted an alarming decrease in the availability of low cost accommodation. For example, between 1977 and 1990, the overall stock of boarding and rooming house accommodation in Adelaide declined by 27% (Young, 1990) and has continued to decline since then.

The amount of beds has reduced from over 1000 in 1990 to currently 201. Recently there have also been historically low vacancy rates in the private market (down to 1% and even lower at the cheaper end of the market).

This situation is exacerbated by huge waiting lists for public and community housing (most people wait years). There is a clear and demonstrable linkage between the reduction of appropriate and affordable housing and the visible increase in the numbers of those experiencing homelessness in Adelaide.

(Homeless in the City, Exploring Myths and Facts, Adelaide City Council)