Homlessness was the main topic of discussion on Sunday’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, where the host concluded that one of the biggest problems surrounding the issue is the public’s perception of the homeless. Oliver pointed a finger at former President Ronald Reagan, saying that on top of cutting programs for the poor and slashing housing subsidies by 75%, he did a lot of damage with the perception that he helped create.
Oliver featured a clip from an interview Reagan did with Good Morning America in 1984, in which Reagan inferred that those who are homeless, were homeless by choice.
“And that notion -- that homelessness isn't related to economic policies, but simply reflects the problems of the individuals experiencing it -- still informs the way it's discussed today,” Oliver said.
And with homlessness having increased in the United States over the past four consecutive years, Oliver looked at a more recent example of someone who is hurting the perception: Dr. Drew Pinsky. Oliver played a clip of Pinsky saying that blaming homelessness on the housing crisis in Los Angeles is “a hoax,” and that homelessness is strictly a mental health and addiction issue. Which Oliver said is a dangerous generalization.
“Yes, many who are homeless do struggle with both those things, and those people are often the most visible, but by no means all of them,” Oliver said. “Also, in many cases, those struggles can be the result of being homeless and not the cause of it.”