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By Location Alaska Albuquerque Allentown Amsterdam Anaheim Anchorage Ann Arbor Atlanta Austin Baton Rouge Bend Binghamton Boston Boulder Canada Cardiff Charlotte Chatsworth Chicago Chippenham Cleveland Columbia SC Columbus Dallas Denver Des Moines Detroit Edmonton Eugene Fayetteville Fort McMurray Fredericton Gainesville Glendale Great Falls Greensboro Harbor City Harrisburg Hawaii Hawthorne Hollywood Honolulu houston Ithaca Kalkaska Kelowna Koreatown Las Vegas Lima London London (Canada) Los Angeles Louisville Manchester Miami Minneapolis/St Paul Montreal Nashville New Orleans New York City Nickelsville Norway Oakland Ocala Oslo Ottawa Oxford Paradise Pasadena Peru Philadelphia Phoenix Pine Ridge Pittsburgh Portland Reseda Sacramento Salt Lake City San Diego San Francisco San Jose San Luis Obispo Santa Monica Saskatoon Seattle Shawnee Skid Row Springfield St John's St Louis St. Petersburg Syracuse Tacoma Tampa Toronto Traverse City Tulsa United Kingdom Vancouver Venice Beach Vermont Victoria Wales Washington DC Wentzville Westwood Wichita Wilmington Winnipeg Yellowknife By topic Addiction Advocacy Affordable housing Art and Music Awareness Charity Cold Weather College Students Community Involvement Coronavirus Couch Surfing Couple Criminalization Data Disabled Divorce Domestic violence Drug testing Education Employment Eviction Ex-convict Faith based Families Family conflict Female Financial crisis Foster care Harm reduction Health care HIV/AIDS Homeless count Homeless deaths Hostels (UK shelters) Hotels Housing First HUD Human trafficking Identification Incarceration Indigenous Invisible People Invisible Stories Job loss K2/Spice (Synthetic Marijuana) LGBT Libraries Lived Experience Male Mental illness Mobile Homeless Natural disasters NIMBY Outreach Panhandling Peer Support Pets Poverty Pregnant PTSD Public Feeding Racism Recycling Relationships Research Rural Schools Seniors Sex Offenders Sex Worker Shelters Single Parent Social Media Social Security Socks Solutions Street Soccer Survival sex System Failure Systems Change Technology Tent Cities Tiny Homes Transgender Travelers Veteran Vietnam Veteran Violence Waiting list Welfare Working poor Youth EVENTS @home contests PBS road trip road trip 2009 road trip 2010 road trip 2011 road trip 2013 to fight youth homelessness sober birthday campaign SXSW TEDx INTERVIEWS Learn More Canadian Homelessness Coronavirus and Homelessness Criminalization of Homelessness Family Homelessness Homeless Seniors Homeless Veterans Homeless Youth Homelessness Mobile Homelessness Panhandling Tent Encampments U.K. Homelessness MISCELLANEOUS 360 video Awards Cause Marketing Dream Center Gates Foundation Google Glass Media Patreon Tribute World Trade Center YouTube More Updates

59% of Americans are Just One Paycheck Away from Homelessness

homelessness

You’re a reader of Invisible People, a noble do-gooder, a thoughtful humanitarian, an activist, an advocate, or perhaps just a quiet observer. You read the homeless education news because you agree with it or because you oppose it, but certainly not because you are part of it, isn’t that right?

What if I told you it’s wrong?

I recently did a piece on pallet shelters and found these so-called “homes”:

  • Are no bigger than a jail cell
  • Lack basic privacy
  • Most are constructed from highly flammable materials

Despite these lackluster features, the overwhelming majority of our readers claimed that they would be grateful to live in one of those if they were homeless.

What if I said you’re about to find out whether or not that’s really true?

Entirely too many people who read about homelessness do so from a sympathetic perspective rather than an empathetic standpoint. But for most working-class Americans, homelessness is closer to home than it may appear.

A financial survey encouraging Americans to save more money was released in 2019 and exposed that 59% of Americans are currently at risk of homelessness. In fact, they are all just one paycheck away from experiencing homelessness firsthand. The COVID-19 pandemic did a great deal to expose poverty in the United States and create it. In 2020, national poverty climbed at never-before-seen rates, thrusting nearly 8 million new Americans into impoverished despair throughout one solitary summer.

What Is Driving Poverty in the United States? It Might Not be What You Expect.

One of the most baffling things about poverty in the United States is that historically, unemployment rates can drop while poverty rates continue to increase. Such was the case recently, in March of 2021.

The root causes for the spike in poverty, which is disconnected from the unemployment rate, are as follows:

  • Expiration of benefits
  • Underemployment
  • Rent burden
  • Food insecurity
  • Wage stagnation

The Urban Institute found that pandemic-related poverty hit communities of color, namely Latin American and African American communities, hardest. Interestingly enough, MarketWatch cites:

  • Children
  • Women
  • People of European Descent
  • Residents in states where unemployment compensation is more restricted
  • Individuals with lower levels of education

as being among those who experienced the sharpest rise in poverty statistically.

Question: Based Solely on the Information Above, Who is at Risk for US Poverty? Answer: In short, everybody. Meaning probably you!

What is Driving Homelessness in the United States? This Answer Might Also Surprise You.

You may wonder what’s driving homelessness to the point where 59% of all Americans are now at risk. Studies show that most Americans wrongly assume that the leading causes of homelessness are drug addiction and mental health issues. This could not be further from the truth. Those causes are not even in the top three. The three leading causes of homelessness as of right now are, in chronological order:

  1. Lack of affordable housing
  2. Unemployment
  3. Poverty

That’s right.

Poverty now tops the chart as the third-leading cause. All of the top three causes relate to poverty in a significant way. While the government has recently spent billions to save the economy and salvage what remains of the nation’s middle-class, attempts to raise the minimum wage have failed miserably. For over 20 consecutive years, rents have risen higher than wages, creating a mass epidemic of rent burden. Housing purchase prices have also increased, making homeownership a dying dream for millions of US citizens.

When mixed with wage stagnation and an economic nosedive, the affordable housing crisis has given way to a future where the vast majority of US residents are walking a tightrope that hovers just above the horrors of homelessness. Anyone at any time could fall right in.

This Is About You. Homelessness Can Happen to Anybody.

When I write about homelessness, I’m not talking about some stranger lurking in a dark alleyway who you’ve never met before. I’m talking about you and me and your parents and your children and their children. I’m showing you a very realistic outline of what the future looks like based on current trends in finance and housing.

*Please Note: These numbers reflect the poverty rate leading up to the passing of the American Rescue Plan. There is not yet enough available data to show if recent government efforts have served to curb poverty in a statistically significant and lasting way. What is clear is that wages have yet to keep pace with housing and rental prices. Either way, there is still more work to be done.

Contact your legislators today and apply the pressure to make affordable housing a reality.


Cynthia Griffith

Cynthia Griffith

     

Cynthia Griffith is a freelance writer dedicated to social justice and environmental issues.

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Invisible People is a nonprofit organization. We rely on the support of friends like you — people who understand that well-written, carefully researched stories can change minds about this issue. And that’s what leads to true transformation and policy change. Our writers have their fingers on the pulse of homeless communities. Many are formerly or currently homeless themselves. They are the real experts, passionate about ending homelessness. Your support helps us tell the true story of this crisis and solutions that will end it. Your donations help make history by telling the real story of homelessness to inspire tangible actions to end it.

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