Why Are People Homeless?

by Sarah Valek

People can find themselves without permanent housing for a number of reasons. Some people are homeless for years, while others are without housing for a day or two. Every homeless person's situation is different, but they are united in what they need---social services and stability.

Misconceptions

Many people assume that others are homeless because they're lazy and don't want to get a job. Actually, an estimated 26 percent of them are employed---they just work low-end jobs with long hours and little pay. Work is not necessarily a way out of poverty. Jobs that pay less than $16,000 a year have seen the most growth, while jobs that pay a living wage are increasingly rare. In order to afford fair market rent, a person needs to earn more than minimum wage.

Significance

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, homelessness is on the rise due to a growing shortage of affordable housing coupled with an increase in poverty, all of which are directly related to the economy. When jobs are scarce, homelessness is on the rise. Housing is out of reach for many citizens, and with a growing number of foreclosures come an increased number of people on the streets. Subsidized housing is available but usually has an extensive waiting list. More transient people are to be expected if housing costs continue to climb and job opportunities continue to shrink.

Considerations

Anyone can lose her home, and many families are only a paycheck away from becoming homeless. No one sees himself on the street or in a shelter, yet very few are immune from this temporary condition.

Types

Reasons for a person's homelessness may include being dropped from public assistance, lack of affordable health care, domestic violence, mental illness, addiction disorders, and lack of quality employment. One or more of these issues may be factors in losing a home. Once a person is homeless, it can be rough to get back on track. Homelessness is a cycle---when transient, it's more difficult to land employment due to lack of permanent address or reliable means of communication. If a person has a mental illness or an addiction disorder, being without housing can cause her condition to worsen.

Prevention/Solution

Just because homelessness is a complex issue doesn't mean it can't be prevented. According to the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless, people can battle this epidemic by calling or writing letters to politicians and demanding that they address homelessness. Does your city have a plan to end homelessness? Ask to see the plan. If you want to know more about transient issues, purchase a local street newspaper. Street papers are written mostly by homeless people and will include personal stories about why a person lost his home.

About the Author

Sarah Valek has been a writer since 2006. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and art from Ithaca College. Valek's work has appeared in ModernMom.com, "Mommies Magazine" and "Natural Moms Talk Radio."

Photo Credits

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