The Stigma Of The Homeless

1556 Words Nov 19th, 2014 7 Pages
During the Great Depression, the homeless were almost glamorized as vagabonds who rode the rails with their belongings neatly tied up in a bandana over their shoulder. Today, the homeless can be anyone: children or women escaping an abusive relationship or those who just cannot afford to pay for housing. While some homeless people maintain employment of some sort, long term homelessness is usually a function of the inverse; either severely under-employed or no income stream at all with which to pay rent and utilities. While quite a bit of academic research has shown the need to focus on societal causes of homelessness, people who are homeless seem to be increasingly perceived and treated within a paradigm of individual sickness. While mental illness does contributes to these numbers, but the discussion here is related to that portion of homeless that has no reliable income and relies on public gratuities through “pan-handling” or begging, to survive. These people are found in urban centers, on street corners and in doorways, with crude signage asking for help and a receptacle for holding donations. Some have pets with them, either as a result of an actual setback in their life’s fortunes, or as a prop to elicit sympathy. With 48 percent of American households with incomes less than $20,000 reporting the owning of animal companions (L. Irvine, 2013), creating a scenario to make oneself more “relatable” for sympathy bears investigation. Although studies have examined the…

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