Nationwide homelessness is a growing epidemic across the country. There are many ways an individual can become homeless, for the most part it is poverty. There are also different concentrations of homeless in different types of environments, such as urban or suburban areas. Last, there is the ever-growing homeless population, and how much money it costs us for others to live in poverty. A way we can help find the solution to this problem, is to know the facts about this lingering subject. People become homeless not because of lack of effort for success, but because of poverty, drug addictions, mental illness and financially unstable times in their lives.
The biggest reason people are homeless is because of poverty. With today’s rising gas prices and inflation rates it is hard to afford a place to live and put food on the table. As of 2000, 11.3% of the US population lived in poverty (National Homeless). The number of people in extreme poverty has been increasing since 1999, accounting for 39% of people in poverty, and making less than half the amount of income a person considered in poverty makes (National Homeless). With this amount of people living in poverty, its no wonder why there are so many homeless today. People live in poverty because of inflation since the 70s, and the loss of affordable housing projects. This accounts for almost all homeless, but there are also other factors that contribute as well. There are many people with addiction problems that make themselves homeless. Its not because they are addicts, but because they are addicts and financially unstable. This causes many individuals to lose focus and end up on the streets. The hard part for them is getting off the streets once theyre there. Since so much of their money goes to drugs, most drug addicts cant overcome being homeless once they have been there for more than 6 months (National Homeless). Mental illness is also a big issue concerning homelessness. Approximately 22% of single white homeless males suffer from a severe mental illness (National Homeless). The main reason is millions of mental patients were deinstitutionalized in the 50s and 60s, and affordable housing wasnt an issue until the 80s. At that time many of these mental patients were reaching their 50’s and couldnt work to afford housing. Luckily, only 5-7% of the mentally ill have to be institutionalized, and most of them can find community programs and housing to help their conditions (National Homeless). Another factor can be domestic violence. Many women have to choose between abusive relationships and homelessness, and nearly 25% of single homeless women said they became homeless due to an abusive relationship in their previous place of residence (National Homeless). Health care affordability is a minor reason for homelessness, but a reason none-the-less. More than half of people living in poverty or homelessness had no health care of any kind (National Homeless).
The reason for homelessness is an easy question to answer, how many homeless there are in the United States is a harder one. Although it is very hard to estimate the number of homeless people in the US, we can get very close using massive amounts of studies and the census. These methods are our best ways to estimate. 52% of requests for emergency shelter for families were denied in the last year, a 22% increase from last year (Weingart). Homeless families in rural areas have very little or nothing to fall back on if they are faced with homelessness. They are often forced to live with friends or relatives to avoid homelessness. This is considered homelessness and counted in studies. However, nearly half of the families requiring emergency shelter arent as lucky as others to have a friend or relative to live with (Weingart). The national estimate for homelessness in the United States as of 2001 was 3.5 Million people, 1.5 million of them being children (National Homeless). That is a huge number to deal with, and there is a bit of questioning with this statistic, wondering where all of these people are in the United States.
Many may think that homelessness is a strictly urban issue, but in reality the population between urban homelessness and rural homelessness is split about 50/50. There are far fewer shelters in rural areas; so people experiencing homelessness are less likely to live in a shelter, and more likely to live in a car or camper, or with relatives in overcrowded and poor housing. Restricting definitions of homelessness include only those who are literally homeless, that is, on the streets or in shelters – does not fit well with the reality, and also may exclude many rural communities from accessing federal money to address homelessness (National Homeless). Studies comparing urban and rural homeless populations have shown that homeless