Maybe things have changed.
I met some people living in their cars, while still working and functioning.
person I met in camps (several thousand) over 15 years had
mental health issues, and self-medicated on drugs or alcohol.
Stay away from them.
First, I am going to agree with you.
Things might be changing a lot. The Hoboes of the Hoover and FDR years were mostly men who had been pinched by a broken system. The number of people who are becoming "Homeless' seem to be swelling. Does that mean more people are becoming mentally ill or is it a symptom of a broken system that is nearing its end-of-life?
Consider this fictional character:
Billy Bramble was the manager of a Waltucky Mega Stores and made $80k per year. He had a nice home in a suburb. He went to his bank and got a home-equity loan to buy a camper to make his wife happy.
One night Billy told one of the associates to get to work. She went to HR and said Billy had called her "...a lazy black bitch...". HR did not care if the allegations were true or untrue. They fired Billy.
The bank did not immediately toss Billy and his wife out of the house when he stopped making payments. His wife left him and took the kids with her. The judge set the child support payments based on the 1040 Billy filed when he was working.
Billy is screwed.
Is Billy mentally ill?
You know, if Billy isn't emotionally destroyed by having been run through the meat-grinder then he is a logical person to be a point-person for a cluster of "tents" to rally around. Billy has the skill-sets.
But the Billys of the world need context and structure and goals and a few resources. Billy needs a mission, just like recovering alcoholics need to go out and "witness" their recovery to others suffering with substance abuse issues.
Billy is at high risk of self-medicating but most of the Billys out there can be saved if they are given a mission: context, structure, goals and resources. I think Billy is worth trying to save.
Some, maybe even many of his campers will be alcoholics or druggies. Some will be Vets with PTSD (which Billy will be grappling with to some degree).
"V", our local homeless girl (now deceased after shooting-up in the stall of a restaurant bathroom) had parents who told her she could live with them if she dropped clean urine. She preferred to live on the street and "hook" for the cost of her next fix.
"V" had signs of underlying mental-illnesses. She carried a soft teddy-bear in her luggage (two paper bags) and she wore a winter coat belted up tightly all four seasons of the year (evidence of self-soothing due to the swaddling effect).
A growing number of others will be people who were in the wrong place, wrong time and were asked to do something impossible and were hip-checked into the boards when they could not make a miracle happen.
Pragmatically, if Billy is managing his campers, those campers are less likely to visit your house in the middle of the night looking for loot.