What Causes Homelessness?
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, two trends are largely responsible for the rise in homelessness over the past 20 to 25 years: a growing shortage of affordable rental housing and a simultaneous increase in poverty.
Poverty and homelessness are tightly linked. People who are unemployed or working for minimum wage often can’t afford to pay rent. Add this to a lack of affordable housing and declining public assistance, and we have a crisis of homelessness within our borders.
Homelessness can begin with a lost job or a serious illness that wipes out the family’s finances.
While many homeless people want to regain their independence, they may find that jobs are hard to come by when you don’t have a physical address, business clothes, or even a cell phone.
Other factors contributing to homelessness include:
- Addiction. People who are poor and addicted to alcohol or drugs are at increased risk for becoming homeless. In fact, 68 percent of Americans cities report that addiction is their largest cause of homelessness.*
- Mental illness. Although 6% of Americans have a mental illness, about 20 to 25 percent of homeless adults are mentally ill.*
- Domestic violence. About half of homeless women and children are fleeing abuse.*
- Foreclosure. The Great Recession robbed many working Americans of their homes. The foreclosure rate is slowing, but continues to have a devastating effect on families.
- Post-traumatic stress. As many as 200,000 military veterans sleep on the street.* Unable to cope after returning from overseas conflicts, some veterans leave their homes and loved ones
*Source: National Coalition for the Homeless