History of Homelessness

Q&A With Our Historian

The top four main causes of homelessness in the country are lack of affordable housing, (2) unemployment, (3) poverty, (4) mental illness and the lack of needed services, and (5) substance abuse and the lack of needed services. Every year there are 3.5 million Americans who become homeless in the country. These are people who have been affected by life altering events that were unplanned for. The shock and depression that can arise from those events can render an individual mentally unstable to a breaking point causing them to lose all available income and therefore homeless.

The truth is homelessness can affect anyone at any given moment. Unplanned circumstances that people are unprepared for can occur at anytime regardless of the individual. However, low income individuals run the greatest risk of going homeless in the country. Single adults have an even greater risk of being homeless. Events such as loss of partner or major life changes can be the cause. There are, however, some cases where the adults are homeless for only a short period of time. Adults and children families are 33 percent of the homeless population in the country. Many of these families go homeless because of struggle with housing and finding affordable housing.

Being an active and responsible citizen is a duty of every individual. This includes making sure that our communities are better. By helping homeless people get off the streets and into better conditions, we are fulfilling our duties as citizens. Find organizations that fight homelessness, volunteer if you have time. Donate anything that you no longer need and think someone else can benefit from. Homeless people need someone to show them love and compassion. Make them feel that they too matter and are part of our communities.