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Northwest Voices | Letters to the Editor

Welcome to The Seattle Times' online letters to the editor, a sampling of readers' opinions. Join the conversation by commenting on these letters or send your own letter of up to 200 words letters@seattletimes.com.

December 17, 2011 at 4:00 PM

Many problems to overcome when leaving homelessness

Posted by Letters editor

Try to understand real causes

Contrary to the popular belief, the main cause of homelessness isn’t irresponsibility or laziness. Rising out of homelessness and reconstructing whole lives isn’t easy. [“Adjusting to an inside kind of life,” NWMonday, Dec. 12.]

There are several factors to consider, such as the number of jobs they qualify for, the cost of living and the inhibiting mental illnesses they experience. Many employers are unwilling to hire homeless individuals because they either don’t possess education and experience, or merely because they don’t seem like trustworthy workers.

Even those who are lucky often don’t receive a sufficient salary that pays for both housing and food, considering the high cost of living in Seattle and the other debts they have. According to the Committee to End Homelessness, the leading causes of homelessness are domestic violence, loss of job, lack of affordable health care, mental disability and drug addiction. All are likely to pose some emotional strain that inhibits people from improving their conditions.

Stereotypes and ill-informed criticisms limit the opportunities we make available to the homeless and discourage us from offering assistance. If we dedicate some time to helping them overcome their physiological needs and boost their esteem, we will enable them to focus on higher-order needs and grow more proficient. All it takes is a change of mind.

— Frances Kate Santos, Seattle

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