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The Campus Lantern

The Campus Lantern

To solve homelessness, start by destigmatizing the homeless

“[Homeless people] are just like us. People who had dreams, hopes, families, and goals. Just give them a little bit of a chance to get their life back on track,” said Cathy Farrell, the founder of Sanctuary Village, a Philadelphia-based organization that plans to build tiny homes for homeless women to live in during their transition to permanent housing.

Every unsheltered person in the city of Philadelphia, and anywhere, has a story. Learning about what leads to housing insecurity is the first step in dispelling myths about homelessness and destigmatizing the issue. 

“Homelessness is largely driven by poverty and mental illness,” said Farrell. For people on the streets, mental illness often goes untreated, because there aren’t enough providers to assist patients. Without insurance, receiving mental health treatment is very expensive.

Farrell described homelessness as falling “into a rabbit hole, which becomes nearly impossible to escape.” Sometimes all someone needs is “a little bit of a hand” to get themself back up— which is exactly what Sanctuary Village aims to do. Farrell emphasized that everyone is susceptible to falling into the cycle.

According to Farrell, many believe that unsheltered people are unmotivated or drug addicted. She described the way that people perceive and treat the homeless as making them feel “non-existent, unseen, and invisible.” This makes them think, “People won’t look at me,” which erodes their self esteem. 

People’s mindsets about homeless can be changed by learning more about the causes behind the issue and by recognizing that every individual has a unique story.

Sanctuary Village believes that solving homelessness is nearly impossible without destigmatizing it. To accomplish this, it is necessary to to put a face to homelessness by connecting with real stories and real lives. 

A school like SCH can do so many things to break homeless stigma and spread the word of Sanctuary Village. According to Farrell “If we just engage in conversation about homelessness, or give a presentation to our classmates about a certain homeless person, that alone makes a huge difference.” The truth is – everyone can play a part in destigmatizing homelessness. 

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    VincentDec 13, 2023 at 11:08 am

    Your a good person giving your best to stamp out homelessness