Twice as many people would feel sympathy for a homeless dog as for a homeless person with drug or mental health problems, a survey suggests.
Some 50% thought the homeless refused to help themselves
And 41% of those questioned believed many homeless people did not want to be housed, the survey for the BBC found.
Some 2,000 people across the UK were questioned for the survey, carried out by TNS and commissioned to launch the BBC's No Home season of programming.
The season will highlight ways the public can help homeless people.
No Home coincides with the 40th anniversary of the screening on BBC One of Ken Loach's drama-documentary Cathy Come Home which explored the impact of homelessness on families.
Homeless Link, which is an umbrella group for organisations working with and for homeless people, has recently launched a campaign and 'road map' for ending homelessness in the UK by 2022.
Jenny Edwards, chief executive of Homeless Link, said: "There are still thousands of individuals who slip through the cracks every year. It is time for the final push to end this social blight forever."
A BBC spokesman said: "Although homelessness is still an issue in the UK 40 years on from Cathy Come Home, the nature of the problem has changed.
"There are far fewer people sleeping rough on the streets each night but today the vast majority of homeless people are invisible or hidden - sleeping on friends' sofas, in hostels or in substandard temporary accommodation."
A 2004 estimate of the hidden homeless put the figure at 380,000 adults in Great Britain.
The survey also suggests 50% of people think the homeless refuse to help themselves and that 53% think giving money to beggars does more harm than good.
The No Home season will be featured across BBC TV, radio and online outlets.
Find out more by visiting the No Home website.