The top ten causes of homelessness seem easy to identify, however, one may find a few surprises.
- Poverty remains the top cause of homelessness. In actuality that seems obvious, but most people don’t know that a quarter of the homeless citizens have jobs but do not receive a high enough paycheck to pay rent or mortgage. Thus, they live on the streets or in a shelter struggling to survive on a low paying nine to five.
- Homelessness can stem from financial crisis. Overwhelming debt, termination from work, and medical emergencies can provide expenses that place an individual or family on the streets. Oftentimes, these circumstances bring insurmountable debt, expenditures, or needs that do not comply with the current income of the
individual, forcing him/her to leave his/her home.
- Divorce plays a huge part in homelessness. Usually, one individual receives the home while the other has no place to go. On top of that, if one individual happened to work and the other was unemployed, the unemployed may face difficulties obtaining a job or paying child support.
- Mental illness presents another battle to many homeless individuals. In addition to the expense, proper medication and treatment can evade an individual. On top of that, many individuals grow wary of mental help due to bad experiences, preconceived notions, or simply irrational fears provided by the illness itself. Amongst the mentally ill homeless two paths remain common: they receive expensive treatment and medication but can no longer afford housing or they refuse to receive treatment and can no longer keep a job due to the symptoms of their illness thus stopping income and pushing them to the streets.
- Drug addiction can destroy an individual’s finances. Costly drug habits can lead to the loss of a job, arrest, debt, illness, or death. In regard to an addict individual, the individual may face homelessness due to lack of money for housing. But a family with an addict parent may face homelessness because of the loss of finances provided by the individual.
- Many veterans face homelessness due to wounds or mental illness. Their disabilities keep them from employment and provide different expenses. How sad that serving our country remains one of the top ten causes of homelessness.
- Domestic violence leaves many on the streets as well. Fleeing victims often have no place to turn and no financial means. Even if the victim has employment, they often have children who have numerous needs. Though some safe havens open their doors to these victims, they may face years of poverty before they fully recover financially.
- Children make up a large portion of the homeless in our country. Many employed individuals receive a paycheck classified as adult-sufficient. This means that an individual with a certain level of income can provide reasonably well for her/himself and possibly a partner. However, once children enter the picture, the expenses outweigh the income leading to poverty and even homelessness. Many homeless individuals are runaways and cannot receive employment due to their age. In addition, runaways rarely attend school or receive a diploma and cannot receive a high paying job once the become adults.
- Tragedy puts many families on the streets. Some may have lost their financially providing parent while others may simply succumb to a deep depression keeping them from maintaining their job. Unfortunately, the suddenness of such tragedies can leave relatives and dependents lost and confused, simply unable to provide for themselves.
- Finally, natural disasters like floods, fires, tornadoes, or hurricanes can leave many homeless in the path of their destruction. Stripped of everything, these families struggle toward the lives they once had.