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What Are The Top 5 Causes Of Homelessness?

Housing that is not too expensive for people of limited means / having no home or permanent place of residence

Housing is a fundamental human right, yet millions of people do not have it. There are more than 1.5 billion individuals who lack “appropriate” housing. Because various nations have varying definitions of “homelessness,” it is challenging to get more specific figures. 

Updated records are rare since it is expensive to track the problem. Regardless, we know that homelessness is a significant issue in the US and globally. Many nations have experienced an uptick in their rates in recent years.

What Constitutes Homelessness?

According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, anybody residing in a temporary site, such as a shelter, or a location unsuitable for human habitation, such as an encampment, automobile, abandoned building, etc.

Major Causes of Homelessness

Many people naively see homeless people and wonder what they did wrong to end up like that. The truth is, they didn’t necessarily have to do anything wrong. Homelessness is not always a consequence of poor decision-making. 

Sometimes, it’s purely circumstantial. Let’s have a look at some of the leading causes of homelessness in the US.

Inadequate Housing

One of the worst affordable housing crises in history is now plaguing the country. It should come as no surprise that people who are poor are most severely impacted. There is a shortage of affordable housing for low-income individuals now more than ever before. 

People risk eviction, instability, and homelessness without housing choices. More people end up homeless due to the widening gap between rising housing costs and stagnating salaries. 

Currently, at least half of the income is spent on housing by almost eight million severely low-income households, placing them at risk of housing instability and homelessness. There is just not enough affordable housing in many areas of America. 

Low, Stagnant Incomes

Most families nowadays end up without a place to live because they just don’t earn enough money to cover rent. Low-income families frequently don’t have enough money to cover the costs of housing, food, clothes, and transportation. 

Due to several issues, such as a difficult job market, insufficient education, a gap in work history, a criminal record, unreliable transportation or insecure housing, poor health, or a handicap, low-income households are frequently unemployed or underemployed. 

Low-income workers’ salaries have stagnated and haven’t increased at a rate that keeps up with rising housing prices. Many people are in danger of homelessness because of insufficient income and the decreasing supply of affordable homes. 

Health Problems

Homelessness and health are intricately intertwined. A person’s health issues may contribute to their homelessness or be made worse by it. When a person’s health condition becomes incapacitating and maintaining stable housing is too challenging without assistance, they may become chronically homeless. 

Compared to the general population, those who reside in shelters are more than twice as likely to have a handicap. The prevalence of diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and HIV/AIDS, is particularly high among the homeless population. 

Homeless individuals are more likely to have urgent, life-threatening medical ailments and live in hazardous environments than those without mental health or drug use issues. Additionally, 10% or more of those who seek treatment for drug misuse or mental illness via our public health system are homeless.

Domestic Violence

Many victims of domestic abuse who leave an abusive relationship end up homeless. The experience of domestic violence is widespread among young people, single individuals, and homeless families. 

It is frequently the direct cause of their homelessness. After leaving an abusive relationship, survivors of domestic abuse may resort to homeless support agencies in need of a secure temporary residence. 

Others could seek out homeless support programs mostly due to a lack of financial means to do so after leaving an abusive relationship. Domestic violence victims need supportive services to help them recover from the trauma of abuse, enhance their economic stability and well-being, and meet their urgent safety and housing requirements.

Racial Inequalities

Due in significant part to long-standing historical and institutional racism, most minority groups, particularly African Americans and Indigenous people, endure homelessness at greater rates than White people. 

African Americans make up 13% of the overall population but 39% of homeless persons and more than 50% of homeless families with children, making them the group with the most glaring imbalance. 

The disparity has not changed over time. Similar experiences may be seen among other minority groups, such as Indigenous and Latinx people. Homelessness is disproportionately high because of structural unfairness, which also causes inequalities in other important areas that impact homelessness rates.

Is Society to Blame?

When society fails to recognize and assist those who are at risk of losing their homes, homelessness results. Failures are frequent in industries including child welfare, healthcare, and penal services. Homelessness rates are also influenced by a society’s inability to address racial inequality, raise wages, and provide affordable housing.

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