Homelessness is a topic that many Americans find uncomfortable discussing. After all, it's difficult to imagine how someone could lose their home and become one of the millions of people who sleep on the street every night. But homelessness is also a problem that affects every community in America, including yours and the statistics on it will astound you. It's important that we understand what causes homelessness so we can begin addressing this serious issue from an informed perspective.
There are many reasons that homelessness can occur:
#1 - Lack of Affordable Housing
The number of people in need of housing assistance has increased dramatically, but the number of affordable housing units available has not kept pace. The cost of housing is rising faster than wages for low-income households and many families with children have been pushed into homelessness because they cannot afford to pay their rent anymore. We know with the rise in inflation this can be a struggle for many families.
#2 - Poverty
Poverty is a lack of money. This is the definition that most people understand best, but there are many other facets to poverty beyond just not being able to make ends meet. Poverty is also a lack of access to resources: food, shelter, healthcare, and safety. Our organization is intentional in making sure we meet the needs of the homeless in our community.
Poverty means having little or no control over your life—a sense that you don't have any power or influence over what happens to you or around you—so it goes beyond just having no money in your bank account.
The person experiencing poverty may be poor because they were born into an impoverished family (or neighborhood), or they could inherit their poverty from their parents' choices such as dropping out of high school or getting pregnant at a young age. They may also have been born with disabilities that cause them to depend on others for assistance due to their handicap.
"Homelessness is not a choice, but rather a journey that many find themselves in" – Asa Don Brow
#3 - Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness. It can be a reason that someone cannot afford their housing and lose it, or they may have been kicked out by an abusive partner. If you’re looking to help homeless people, this is a great way to do so! Donate your time and money to shelters, or volunteer at a local one. You can also donate items such as toiletries and clothes if you’re looking for ways to help. Organizations like ours truly survive off of charitable gifts and donations from generous donors like you.
#4 - Mental Illness
Did you know that 20%-25% of the homeless population suffers from mental illness? And while some of them may be choosing to be homeless, the majority of them likely don't choose to have a mental illness. Turns out it's not a choice after all, and it's not something a person can just change their mind about later.
Did you also know that there are even more reasons why homelessness is a problem than what we've already talked about? You might find them very interesting…
#5 - Substance Abuse
This is another factor that can lead to mental illness (as well as other health problems) and eventually homelessness. Many people turn to drugs or alcohol to cope with trauma or other life stressors, but what starts out as recreational use can quickly spiral into addiction. Addicts often lose their job, home, and family due to their addiction, which can ultimately lead to them living on the streets.
#6 - Unemployment and Underemployment
Unemployment and underemployment are common causes of homelessness, as they can lead to a person's inability to provide for themselves. Unemployment is a lack of work; underemployment is when an employee works fewer hours than needed, or in less lucrative jobs than what they're qualified for. For example, suppose you are unemployed due to a lack of available jobs in your field or area (or other reasons). In that case, you may find yourself homeless because you're unable to make enough money to cover your living costs—a problem that better job opportunities could solve. The great thing about our organization is we can help people find a job and get back to work.
#7 - Health Problems and Disabilities
The more severe your health problem is, the more likely you will be homeless. People with chronic mental illness, substance use disorders, and chronic physical health conditions face a higher risk of homelessness than those without these issues. Additionally, having a disability can make it difficult for someone to work—which means they may have difficulty finding housing that fits their needs or affords them enough income to afford rent on their own. Plus, many people with disabilities live below the poverty line even when they do have jobs because of how expensive medical care is these days!
Homelessness is a complex problem with no easy solutions, but we can work to make life easier for those who are homeless by providing them with housing and employment opportunities. As you can see, there are many factors that can contribute to someone becoming homeless. It's important to be understanding and compassionate when you see someone who is homeless; you don't know what that person has had to go through to get where they are today. And remember that just because someone is homeless doesn't mean they are less of a person; they deserve our help and respect just like anyone else. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive more information on how you can help.