Myth: Homelessness mostly affects middle-aged men.
Fact: The face of homelessness continues to change. In fact, the fastest growing populations of homeless in Albuquerque are single women and children making up an estimated 50% of Albuquerque’s homeless population.
Myth: Homelessness occurs because people are lazy.
Fact: Homelessness happens for various reasons. People lose their jobs and are unable to keep their home. Women flee to the street to escape domestic violence. Some homeless (such as veterans) have suffered a major life trauma and are unable to cope with it, developing serious conditions such as PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).
Myth: Homeless people only want to beg for money.
Fact: Each week, more than 40,000 New Mexicans – a population roughly the size of the City of Farmington — seek out food and/or emergency assistance. About 40% of those affected are children under the age of 18 and 7% of those children are under the age of 5.
Myth: Charities and churches are there to help the homeless.
Fact: They are, but the growing number of homeless women and children are far-exceeding the resources of local and statewide charities, churches and even elementary schools. Helping end this cycle will take an aggressive partnership between the community, businesses, local governments and charities.
Myth: Homeless people are dangerous drug addicts.
Fact: While many homeless people have turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with their situation, many more are simply working class members of the community who have fallen on hard times and cannot seem to get out of it. In fact, the Albuquerque Public Schools have more than 6,000 students enrolled in their homeless program.
Myth: Becoming homeless will never happen to me.
Fact: According to the U.S. Census, 18.2% of New Mexicans are living below the poverty line. Those living in poverty have regular jobs and children who go to school; however, homelessness is driven by low-income families’ inability to afford housing.