Here’s How Close You Are to Homelessness According to Experts

at risk of homelessness

Experts reveal that transitional homelessness is a common risk for many. High-risk factors include inability to afford emergencies, rent-burden, low-wage jobs, having children, and being from ethnic minorities.


Assess Your Risk of Becoming Homeless by Looking at the Cold, Hard Facts and Figures

Transitional homelessness is one of the most common types of homelessness. It is defined as a sudden shift that immediately and unexpectedly thrusts a family or individual into the desolate state of living without stable residency. Without warning, a once-housed person or family winds up on the streets, in a shelter, or living out of their vehicle.

According to experts, as common as it is, transitional homelessness can happen to anyone, including you, especially if you have one or more of the following attributes.

1) You Are at High Risk of Becoming Homeless if You’re One of the 6 out of 10 Americans who Can’t Afford an Emergency

The number of Americans who can’t afford an emergency is growing at an alarming rate. A few years back, research found that more than half of all US residents did not have enough savings to face a financial hardship totaling $1,000 or more. In 2024, that number is close to 6 in 10. According to Fortune, 40% of Americans cannot even afford a $400 emergency. 

This means that most people are safe from homelessness if nothing goes wrong. But before you let out a sigh of relief, know that 60% of US residents will face a significant financial hardship at least once each passing calendar year. This means the barrier standing between you and homelessness is about as thin as a flat tire, a leaky pipe, or an unexpected medical diagnosis.

2) You Are at High Risk of Homelessness if You’re One of the 22.4 million Americans Who Struggle with Rent-Burden

People who allocate 30% or more of their income toward rent are classified as rent-burdened. This means they have less money set aside for emergencies and even basic living necessities.

According to experts, this automatically places them in the high-risk category for homelessness. Approximately half of all US renters fit this description, which translates to 22.4 million Americans.

3) You Are at High Risk of Becoming Homeless if You Work One of the 13 US Occupations that Don’t Pay a Livable Wage

Insufficient wages rank among the top three causes of homelessness, meaning they significantly elevate the risk of housing instability. In an exclusive interview with Invisible People, Sarah Saadian, the Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Field Organizing at the National Low Income Housing Coalition, honed in on this aspect of vulnerability.

“I wouldn’t say that all people are equally at risk of homelessness. I think certainly we see that the risk is higher among people who have extremely low incomes, whether it’s seniors or people with disabilities who are living on fixed incomes or people who are working at low-wage jobs that don’t pay enough,” the Senior VP said. “But it really is pretty broad in scope. If you look at the 20 largest occupations in the US, 13 of them don’t pay median wages that are high enough to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.”

“So there’s this systemic issue where people are just not being paid at levels where they can afford housing,” she said. “I wouldn’t say necessarily everyone, but it’s certainly a significant share of our population that’s at risk of housing insecurity and, in worst cases, homelessness.”

4) You Are at High Risk of Homelessness if You Have Children or Are a Child

NLIHC housing experts state that people most likely to enter homelessness through eviction are either children or families with children. In a study examining 7.9 million cases where eviction was threatened, families with children were disproportionately represented. The risk of homelessness for children and families with children further increases if you hail from an ethnic minority background.

5) You Are at High Risk of Becoming Homeless if You Are from an Ethnic Minority Background

According to studies, adult renters with one or more children face double the rate of eviction as their childless peers. However, that number skyrockets even higher for Black, Indigenous, and Latino families who face alarming rates of eviction and subsequent homelessness. 

6) You Are at High Risk of Homelessness if You Vote for Policies that Don’t Serve the Public’s Best Interests

No matter who you are or where you come from, your risk of homelessness is drastically increased whenever the housing supply does not meet the demand, as is the case today.

Homelessness can only become more widespread in a climate where homeless people are punished for being homeless, and corporate real estate firms, construction companies, and architects are rewarded for refusing to supply affordable homes.

Tell Your Legislators to Make Housing a Human Right

You are wondering why there is so much homelessness stretching across the countryside. This results from terrible policies that normalize not building housing that everyone can afford. Urge your local legislators to get back to the drawing board and start drafting laws that make housing a human right for all.


Cynthia Griffith

Cynthia Griffith

     

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

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