Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why Are People Homeless?

The National Alliance to End Homeless has a new blog, and they just posted a mercifully brief answer to the question: "Why Are People Homeless?" The root causes of homelessness are very complex, and there are often interconnected issues that cause someone to lose their place to live, but this article gives a good high-level summary for four populations:
  • Veterans: Emotional or mental distress from military service can manifest in damaging behavior (drugs, alcohol, etc.) that leads to loss of permanent housing.
  • Families: An unforeseen costly event (raise in rent, medical emergency, etc.) creates a financial hurdle that can push a family into homelessness.
  • Youth: Homelessness often happens as a result of a family disruption (divorce, abuse, etc.). Those who leave foster care when they turn 18 or get out of the juvenile justice system find themselves without a social safety net.
  • The "Chronically Homeless": Most often the result of a physical or psychological disability, which makes it hard to secure permanent housing.
There is voluminous data and analysis about this question, available on the NAEH site and elsewhere, but these are reasonable nuggets to share the next time you're on an elevator and the subject comes up. If everyone in America knew even this about the homeless, I believe things would change.

1 comment:

Catherine said...

Thanks for the re-post, Steve! Agreed, it's definitely hard to write (concisely!) about such a complex issue.

Let's keep in touch - your blog looks so great!