Causes and Effects of Homelessness

Topics: Homelessness, Homelessness in the United States, Poverty Pages: 9 (2299 words) Published: January 11, 2015


Causes and Effects of Homelessness
Tera Penrod
Purpose: To help people understand homelessness.
Audience: Readers interested in learning about some causes of homelessness and some effects it has.

Homelessness is living without a home, be it on the streets or in shelters. There are many causes for people becoming homeless, and the combination of factors that lead to homelessness are different for every individual. Some of the factors that contribute to homelessness for youth, single adults, and families are poverty, domestic violence, substance abuse and mental illness, limited assistance services, and personal choice. The effects are also varied and can pertain to communities, businesses, other people and the homeless themselves. Some of the effects of homelessness are health, personal, families, abuse, and the society. Although there are many reasons why people become homeless, this paper will only include the top five causes. Poverty is the number one leading cause of people becoming homeless, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. Poverty is best known as that state of being poor. When people lack income to meet all of their needs, they are forced to choose between housing, utilities, transportation, childcare, healthcare, and food. Nationally, homeless who have been surveyed by the U.S. Bureau of the Census, high proportions of homeless individuals were found to be employed. However, wages are often not sufficient to ensure housing stability and many people do not have jobs that provide living wages, health insurance, or high job security. Roughly half of homeless adults have incomes of less than $300 per month, (National Coalition for the Homeless). A lack of educational opportunities limits access to living-wage jobs and contributes to poverty. Another issue related to poverty is high cost and shortage of housing. It is difficult, if not impossible, for low-income individuals and families to find affordable housing. It’s no wonder with the limited scale of housing assistance programs, and other services of aid. With growing poverty levels and more people becoming homeless, public assistance services are unable to keep up with the demand. Public assistance can be described as government aid (publicly funded) or privately funded agencies (churches, and/or other charities) to needy, aged, or disabled persons and to dependent children. Assistance programs do exist, but many have regulations and requirements that many people don’t qualify for. There are also the issues of waiting lists that might be as long as six months or a year. Shelters are available, but may have limited space and are only temporary (usually measured by weeks, some only lasting two weeks). Even with the programs out there, most don’t have adequate funding for prevention of homeless. Whether people are abused, mentally ill, or have disabilities, assistance is becoming more scarce and strict including health care necessities. While homeless people consist of mentally ill people and addicts, this only makes up a small portion of the entire homeless population. Mentally illness is foreseen as various psychiatric conditions, usually characterized by impairment of an individual's normal cognitive, emotional, or behavioral functioning, and caused by physiological or psychosocial factors. Addicts consist of alcohol and drug users/abusers, which are considered of having habits of consuming either or both. According the U.S. Conference of Mayors (2005), about 16% of single adults are mentally ill homeless, and addicts make up less than this (addicts are more complex). It is difficult for either (mentally ill or addicts) to keep a job and often have trouble finding housing and treatment. Both, mentally ill and addicts, have a hard time finding services when living on the streets, thereby creating a cycle of homelessness and addiction from which it’s almost impossible to escape. Other...

Bibliography: About the Homeless: Snapshot of homelessness. National Alliance to End
Homelessness, 2011
June 20. Web. 2011 October 1. www.nationalhomeless.org
Why Are People Homeless? National Coalition for the Homeless, July 2009
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