Forget the Stereotypes and Have Sympathy for Homeless People

giving money to homeless people without thinking about stereotypes

Invisible People just released their first animated short, which I suggest you view before continuing to read this.

This video has a very important message and a lot of care put into it. I must give a lot of credit to the creative team. 

Of course, sharing it on Twitter, I am limited. I’m lucky if a post I make reaches more than 500 views. I hope readers of my column, many of whom do not use Twitter, will post this video on their social media accounts, whichever ones they use. Why? Because I think it’s very much time to kill the stereotypes that prevent people from giving help or feeling sympathy, empathy, or compassion. 

Since ancient times, the idea of the beggar has disgusted people. This image conjures up all sorts of negativity. Certainly, those suffering from Leprosy more than 2,000 years ago come to mind as a group of people who had to beg in the streets for food and water.

Imagine the ignorant mindset of people back then. They understood that interacting with sick people could make them sick, and there were no cures for many diseases. It’s easy to understand the early “social distancing,” but without a scientific understanding of the disease, they often believed those people were terrible people being punished with sickness. 

Is that legacy built into homo sapien DNA? You see a man with a dirty coat sitting in an alley, and the first reaction is to shun him, judge him and pray you get away fast enough that he doesn’t have a chance to ask you for help, just as someone would have done two millennia ago?

Today we live in a greed-driven society that actively works against anyone but a tiny elite from sharing the wealth.

Right now, a carton of 12 eggs costs between $6 and $9 in my local supermarket! I’m not talking about the organic section! Also, most products have shrunk. You might notice bottles of detergent sold in 2019 containing 75 oz of fluid now contain only 45 oz – but cost about the same. You have to buy the product more often, and they hope you won’t notice.

The cost of living and housing is out of reach for so many. Yet the public finds it difficult to believe that 74% of people without housing are not drug or alcohol users. They are people like me who are priced out of housing and living.

Sure, we see people on the street who are addicted to substances. Maybe that’s how some of them became homeless. Right now, I know four people who are alcoholics, and they are all housed. Society must understand that “painting with a broad stroke” is inappropriate. Not all substance abusers are homeless, and not all homeless people are substance abusers.

This is the danger of stereotyping.

At one point, a troll on Twitter commented he’d “been out here a long time” and said he’d never seen anyone out there (meaning living on the streets) who wasn’t using something. From his perspective, this might have been true. But he wasn’t seeing the big picture. Yes, in his corner of the multiverse, he likely encountered no one other than fellow substance abusers. On the other hand, women like me who dwell in a vehicle because we are priced out of housing try to “fly under the radar” and do not approach or hang around with guys like “Mr. Troll and Company.”

Those guys are free to do what they want, but I want no part. I don’t want to interact with people who the police are constantly policing. I want to be left alone in peace.

So, while he only sees people like himself and ironically reinforces the negative stereotypes, he can’t see the possibility of a person working an actual job, having no addictions, and still being forced to live in a car rather than housing.

Meanwhile, begging for help online has made survival possible for me over the past few years. In my life, I have never bought drugs or alcohol and certainly wouldn’t start now. Even though I live in chronic pain, I have refused to take any pain medication because of the damage that long-term use can have on the liver. 

My donation money has gone for essential things like a dental crisis that cost nearly $3,000 in 2020 and three massive repairs to my van costing $2,000 each!

Due to multiple sclerosis-related heat intolerance, I have to keep my van cool in the summer, so I spend a lot on fuel. I hate running the van for climate control, much less because of the fuel cost.

I use the money I receive to buy propane cans to run my portable stove in my non-mobile RV, which sits in storage. (I can’t live in it because it’s against the storage lease). Paying for a storage unit allows me to access belongings and things I can swap out seasonally. I also buy health supplements, which are critical because I manage pain using inflammation-lowering methods rather than drugs. And, of course, I buy groceries, too. When people help me, I am eternally grateful, and not one cent goes to drugs or alcohol.

I make things that I can sell, or I try to sell stuff from my storage online, like on eBay, with the help of friends who let me share their accounts. I earn some money. However, I don’t have a studio and cannot guarantee when I can be productive or that I will have a project done on time.

So, when you see somebody asking for help, yes, use some discretion, of course, but also think about me. The person asking might be disabled, as I am. They may not have viable help or enough money to survive.

It’s time to see unhoused people as actual human beings first because that is the first step toward change for the better. Has humanity evolved so little over the millennia that a person is still seen as little more than vermin just because of disabilities, age, or dire circumstances?

Losing your housing is frighteningly easy to do nowadays. While many think you can “just go down to welfare and get everything handed to you,” that’s not what happens for most of us. Help is in very short supply. It may seem trivial to buy somebody a cup of hot coffee or a container of hot chicken soup from a convenience store. But it could mean the world to that person on that day. 

Homeless Loki

Homeless Loki


Homeless Loki is a disabled homeless person also on the autism spectrum currently homeless in upstate New York

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