What Does It Mean: People Experiencing Homelessness

07/25/2019, By Valley of the Sun United Way


When you think of your social groups, how do you organize them? Maybe you have your work friends, your party friends, your game night friends, your parent friends, and countless other categories you use to make sense of your circle. This is a natural thing our brains do to make it easy to understand the world we live in, and we do it with way more than just our social groups.

You may have noticed that Valley of the Sun United Way says “people experiencing homelessness” instead of “homeless people.” This psychological grouping has a lot to do with our choice of words. By calling someone a homeless person it identifies that as a grouping, allowing a psychological separation from those who have homes. But by stating that someone is a person experiencing homelessness it keeps in the mind and the heart the most important piece, that someone is a person.

Using the phrase “homeless person” can imply that the solution to each person’s problem is to provide a place to live. While this is a good start for some scenarios, it isn’t the sole answer for all. Many times people who are experiencing homelessness had a single situation that resources could have fixed – a situation out of their control like layoffs at a job, an unexpected, high cost medical expense, one financial emergency after another that piled up too high, or even an untreated mental illness. In these cases, those problems will still exist after a place to live is established.

That’s why we break the cycle of poverty by uniting with community members and partners to identify and take on the many issues that are large factors that can lead to poverty in Maricopa County. Human connection ends the homelessness 6,600 people in our community are experiencing every day. Connect to people, connect with us, and United we can break the cycle of poverty.


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