The Truth about Homelessness

People experiencing homelessness often face discrimination and dehumanization caused by negative stereotypes. These dangerous myths further isolate people from the community, threatening their health, safety, and ability to find jobs and housing.

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Myth: You can tell when someone is homeless.

TRUTH: People who experience homelessness are not all living on the street or in shelters. Some people live in motels or campgrounds. Others are crashing on a friend’s couch or receiving mail at a relative’s home while sleeping in their cars. Many are children who are in school during the day.

Myth: People are homeless because of mental health issues or substance use.

TRUTH: Although serious mental health issues or substance use disorders may be prevalent among people experiencing homelessness, the top factors causing homelessness are a lack of affordable housing, poverty and racism.

Myth: Some people just want to live on the streets.

TRUTH: People don’t want to live on the streets, or unsheltered. They may be doing so because:

  • They struggle with a substance use disorder, and local shelters won’t take people in while they are using.
  • They perceive a shelter to be unsafe.
  • They are living among a community of people they trust, whether that’s in a tent community or some other arrangement.

Myth: Homelessness is a “big city” problem.

TRUTH: Homelessness isn’t just in Ann Arbor. It’s also happening in towns like Dexter and Chelsea. In fact, a higher percentage of youg children living in rural counties in Michigan experience homelessness than their peers in urban counties. Across the nation, nearly half (48%) of the 325,000 people experiencing sheltered homelessness on any given day were living in smaller cities and suburban and rural areas (HUD 2021 Annual Homeless Assessment Report).

Myth: Fighting homelessness is expensive.

TRUTH: Avalon Housing’s cost for housing people (at approximately $11,000 a year) is less than the costs of leaving people homeless, which may include costs for law enforcement, hospitals and other community services. It’s also cheaper than incarceration or short-term shelters. Learn more about the impact of our work.

Myth: Having a low-income property in your neighborhood will lead to declining property values.

TRUTH: Affordable housing has no effect on property values—or the quality or character of the area—when it’s located in healthy and vibrant neighborhoods. 

In fact, Avalon has increased property values by rehabilitating housing in need of good management and repair. 

How You Can Help

Avalon Housing’s services are supported by our partners and funded entirely by our community. Learn more about how you can volunteer or give today.

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