Chapter 3: How to talk about ending homelessness

Messaging tips: language guide

Words are powerful, and the words we use to describe homelessness can seriously impact our ability to motivate people to take action for real solutions.

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It’s important to consider which words we use when speaking about homelessness–particularly the words we use to describe people experiencing homelessness.

A lot of the language we’re used to hearing dehumanizes and portrays homelessness as a permanent condition or character defect. This helps preserve negative attitudes and stigmas around homelessness. We have the ability to change hearts and minds by using language that reminds us that homelessness is something that people experience, rather than a defining characteristic, and that people experiencing homelessness are our neighbors, not strangers.

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Getting involved

The most common question we receive is: “What can I do to help?” We all have a role to play in ending homelessness, and everyone brings unique skills, perspectives, and experiences to our shared work. Our campaign is centered around community organizing, which brings people together to advocate for systemic change and solutions.

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