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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

Causes of Homelessness

Causes of Homelessness

Why Are People Homeless?

There are many, complex causes of homelessness. At a basic level, people become homeless when their wages and income are not enough to cover rent or a mortgage and other necessities like food, medicine, health care, transportation, and child care.
Circumstances and life-altering events that cause a person to become homeless include:

  • Low-paying jobs
  • Lay-offs
  • Serious illnesses or accident
  • Lack of income
  • Loss of a loved one or divorce
  • Lack of support networks
  • Evictions
  • Foreclosures
  • Poverty
  • Natural disasters (i.e. hurricanes, floods)
  • Fires

Economic forces, policy decisions, budget priorities, societal trends, and attitudes about public assistance all contribute to the causes of homelessness. In recent history, economic and financial circumstances related to the Great Recession—the worst global recession since the Great Depression—resulted in high rates of foreclosures and unemployment. As a result, may people were pushed out of their homes.

The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to increasing homelessness. People have lost their jobs due to illness and taking care of sick family members. They are unable to pay their rent or mortgage and are at risk of homeless. For more information on COVID-19 and homelessness, visit our resource page.

NLIHC states that there is no state where one person earning the federal minimum wage can afford a 2-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent. Fair Market Rent is an estimate of what someone moving today can expect to pay for a modest rental home in any given area. The rate is set annually by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Lack of Affordable Housing

Research from NLIHC finds a shortage of 7 million affordable and available rental homes for extremely low income renters. This group includes individuals with incomes at or below the poverty level or 30 percent of their area median income. The majority of the poorest renters in the U.S. are seniors, people with disabilities, and people who are working, enrolled in school, or caring for a young child or someone with a disability. NLIHC also reports there are 36 affordable and available units for every 100 extremely low income renters nationwide. Seventy-one percent of extremely low income renters spend more than half of their income on housing.

It is difficult to say how long people remain homeless. Every instance depends on an individual’s or family’s circumstances, availability of housing and services to promote stability, and other economic and societal forces. Many people experience homelessness for a short time. Some experience homelessness intermittently throughout their lives.
Surveys by the U.S. Conference of Mayors determined the following statistics:

  • People remained homeless for an average of eight months
  • The average length of stay in emergency shelter was 69 days for single men, 51 days for single women, and 70 days for families

Some people are chronically homeless. The U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development defines chronic homelessness as people who have been homeless for at least a year or repeatedly while experiencing a disabling condition. These conditions include physical disability, serious mental illness and/or substance use disorder, which makes it difficult to find and maintain housing. According to the 2021 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, the number of sheltered individuals experiencing chronic homelessness increased by 20 percent between 2020 and 2021. This trend has been increasing in recent years.

Challenges Contributing to the Causes of Homelessness

For many homeless people, physical and mental health challenges, physical disabilities, alcoholism, and addiction as well as experiences of domestic violence, trauma, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can make it difficult to earn a living wage and maintain or regain stability. When someone does not have access to affordable health and mental health care, as well as education and job training opportunities, these challenges are exacerbated. Race and racism are also directly related to experiences of homelessness.

Read more about solutions to homelessness and how to help homeless people.


C4 innovations

           

C4 Innovations advances recovery, wellness, and housing stability for people who are marginalized. We are committed to reducing disparities and achieving equitable outcomes. We partner with service organizations, communities, and systems to develop and implement research-based solutions that are: person-centered, recovery-oriented, and trauma-informed.

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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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