Stigma & Social Isolation

Alongside the personal and economic hardship, people experiencing homelessness face discrimination and exclusion as a result of their housing status that is reflected in their interactions general society, city legislation, law enforcement, and even the health care system. Homelessness sits at the nexus of stigma, isolation, and vulnerability: though homelessness can be highly visible, passersby often ignore individuals or subject them to stares, reinforcing their "outsider" status either by making them invisible or making them visible only through negative attention. This outsidership renders people experiencing homelessness vulnerable to acts of violence, exploitation, and extreme social isolation which can create barriers to stable housing and employment, as well as trigger or worsen mental health issues.

Fear of stigma may lead some individuals, especially youth, to keep their housing status secret, hindering their ability to enroll in services or find housing among their social networks. It may also keep individuals from entering public spaces, where they may be subjected to ridicule, harassment, or staring, further marginalizing a population that already struggles with meeting the basic human needs of food, clothing, and shelter.1

In their own words: Andy | Cardiff, UK