Join the Fight Against Misinformation About Homelessness

Misinformation

Pervasive misinformation surrounds homelessness – it’s time to join the fight against it by advocating for truth, challenging myths, and fostering collaboration between media, advocacy groups, and communities.


You’ve seen it with your own two eyes – the undeniable growth in homelessness that’s seeping across the United States of America. It is a difficult thing to witness and nearly impossible to understand.

With corrupt narratives about the homeless crisis circulating through mainstream media, social media, political media, lobbyists, and think tanks, it is easy to get caught up in the web of half-truths and flat-out lies or, at the very least, to feel defeated by it. If this sounds like you, fear not, for there has never been a better time to join the fight against misinformation in the homeless sector than now.

Yesterday’s Tomorrow is Today

We have been preparing for the future that is presently unfolding. While it may seem hopeless to speak out against the relentless narrative being pushed, it is a vital act in housing advocacy.

The most important tool that we can use to end or reduce homelessness is the unwavering, undeniable truth. The objective truths surrounding the homeless crisis include:

  • The truth about the leading causes of homelessness must become common knowledge if we aspire to prevent and address the crisis. The more people learn that homelessness is a systemic failure and not a personal problem, the more likely they will be to vote in favor of laws that prioritize housing and services and in opposition to laws that criminalize the vulnerable homeless population.
  • The truth about how close most people are to becoming homeless in their communities. The more people find out how easily homelessness can touch them, the more likely they will be to demand immediate, non-punitive resolutions from people in positions of power.
  • The truth about the looming housing shortage and how it adversely affects us all. Solving homelessness could save tax dollars and open the housing market back up to everyday Americans if we resolve the current supply and demand issue. The more this truth is exposed, the more likely people will be to start building affordable housing up, rather than tearing members of the homeless community down.

Shifting the narrative will not be easy. Nothing worth it ever is. However, some new tools in the toolbox might help you in this fight for housing justice. Here are just a few suggestions to get you started.

New Ways to Combat Misinformation in the Homeless Sector

Collaboration Between Media and Advocacy Groups

Members of mainstream media would fare well to team up with advocacy groups and join together in amplifying the truth. This goal can be achieved by:

  • Building partnerships to combat misinformation
  • Highlighting positive stories and accurate information
  • Understanding common tropes and myths that should be avoided to present a neutral, factual stance on the issue
  • Sharing and collaborating on trending topics

Government and Policy Implications

Criminalizing tactics are often hidden in the fine print of government policies and pending legislation. Certain bills that target the homeless population for criminalization are presented to the public in a deceptive manner that suggests these laws would help the homeless community, although, in reality, they will hurt our homeless neighbors and even exacerbate the crisis. To counter this, we must combat misinformation on a legislative level, taking measures to:

  • Hold lawmakers responsible for the role of policies in addressing misinformation
  • Advocate for responsible media reporting
  • Advocate for clarity in the text and titles of pending legislation
  • Demand public votes for homeless policies that are quietly being passed in private

Community Engagement and Empowerment

There is no doubt that homelessness is an issue that affects entire communities. As such, there is a need to fight misinformation through community engagement and by uplifting the voices of those who know the most about it – people who have endured homelessness or who are currently homeless. We can inspire this kind of engagement and empowerment by:

  • Involving the homeless community in media representation
  • Empowering individuals to challenge misinformation
  • Holding community meetings to discuss the truth about the topic
  • Hosting community advocacy groups on social media
  • Sharing positive stories and challenging smear campaigns that intentionally paint our unhoused neighbors in a negative light

Ethical Journalism Practices

The narrative shift must be supported by mainstream journalists. Mainstream media personalities must be required to report homelessness news from an unbiased standpoint and avoid loaded language that might elicit hostility.  

  • The responsibilities of journalists in reporting on homelessness must include removing bias and refraining from hate speech.
  • Ethical guidelines for media organizations should be mapped out and widely distributed.
  • Journalists should be trained on ways to identify misinformation in homelessness news before they unintentionally spread myths to the general public.

Global Perspectives on Media and Homelessness

According to the World Economic Forum, at least 150 million people are homeless across the globe, while millions more are housing insecure. Zeroing out to look at the big picture can be a helpful way for advocates to gain perspective. Some recommendations include:

  • Making comparisons with how other countries handle media portrayals of homelessness
  • Creating international initiatives to address misinformation about homelessness
  • Connecting worldwide via digital platforms to advance the truth and counter the narrative internationally

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Sign Up to Our Homelessness Newsletter to Learn More About Joining the Fight Against Misinformation

Did you know that Invisible People single-handedly reaches hundreds of millions of viewers and readers, many of whom are already in this fight with you? Take the first step in combating misinformation by signing up for our newsletter to learn the truth about homelessness.

This is the final installation in our 4-part Misinformation Series. Learn more in part 1, Why Fact Checking Is Important, part 2, How to Identify Misinformation in Homelessness News, and part 3, Strategies Advocates Can Use to Tackle Misinformation.


Cynthia Griffith

Cynthia Griffith

     

Cynthia Griffith is a freelance writer dedicated to social justice and environmental issues.

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