Thanks to recent public awareness campaigns by private and government agencies such as the National Coalition for the Homeless and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development respectively, long-standing societal stereotypes of the homeless are gradually evaporating. Images of creatively clothed white-bearded old men leaning against an alley wall clutching a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag have morphed into a family living in their car or a single mother and her children living in a shelter. The estimated half a million children that, at any one time, is homeless in America and their mothers represent the “fastest-growing segment of the homeless population” (“Face” 2007). According to current research conducted of homeless shelters, single males comprise forty-five percent and single females fifteen percent of the estimated two million homeless in America. Forty percent of the homeless population is comprised of families and a third of them are single parents with children (“Face” 2007).
It is a misconception that most homeless persons actually prefer that horrific lifestyle after having adjusted to it. Studies show that ninety-four percent of those without a home certainly would not choose to live this way another day if they had an alternative. Another common fallacy regarding the homeless is that they made poor decisions thus are culpable for their own fate. In addition to the large percentage of children that are homeless, many others are victims of their circumstances as well. Some veterans suffer from mental and physical disabilities resulting from combat and cannot maintain a ‘normal’ existence. Others were abused as children or raised in homelessness. Still, others fell victims to the addiction of drugs and alcohol which decimated their working and family life.