- An old man walks up to you in a busy part of town, wearing tattered and dirty clothing, begging you for change. You think to yourself, “Why doesn’t he get a job?” or maybe, “If he didn’t drink so much, maybe he wouldn’t be where he is at”. You continue heading in the same direction, not even pausing to tell the old man no. How many of you can say that you’ve reacted this way, or similarly? Or even went to the lengths of telling the old man to go get a job, to leave you alone?
- That man isn’t the only representation of those that suffer from chronic homelessness, and quite often, the reasoning falls deeper than you would expect.
- Having spent two years in the shelters here in Louisville after leaving a violent relationship, I saw various different types of people who happened to be homeless. There were quite a few women with children, many severely (and seemingly unmanageable) mentally ill, people with drug and alcohol addiction in programs, and veterans. Those were most of the types of people I encountered while in the shelters. But there were many I saw while trudging downtown from soup kitchen, to library, and back to the shelter in the early evening. There were those who were too far gone, mentally, to even be able to consciously check into a shelter without help. Even if there were assistance offered, this person wouldn’t even have the ability to take care of him/herself without aid. Therefore, the shelters would likely tell them to leave.
- Today I will enlighten you. I will be covering the primary causes of chronic homelessness, the statistics on who is mostly affected by homelessness, and I will tell you what you can do in order to not only change your perception on the homeless in our society, but also how you can help these people.
- The people at Endhomelessness.org compiled a lot of data to show everyone just how much of a problem homelessness really is. From my experience, unless someone sees the numbers, they seem to show a real disconnect to the reality of it all.
- It was reported in January of 2013, that on a single night, 610,042 people experienced homelessness.
- Of that number, 222,197 are people in families.
- 387,845 of those people are individuals.
- 57,849, about 9 percent, are veterans.
- 20 to 25 percent of those struggling with homelessness have one or more mental illness.
- There are as many as 3.5 million Americans a year that struggle with homelessness.
- About 19 percent of those enduring homeless are considered chronically homeless.
- Chronic homelessness is described as being homeless for a year or more, or having experienced homelessness at least four times in the last three years and has a disability.
- From 1999 to 2005, there were 472 documented acts of violence towards homeless people, including 169 murders.
- There are a number of homeless people that also die due to poor or non-existent healthcare, as well as exposure to extreme weather conditions.
- Here are some of the causes of homelessness, also according to nationalhomeless.org.
- Foreclosure. In October alone, 123,109 homes foreclosed.
- This number has increased by 15 percent since the previous month.
- The U.S. Foreclosure Market Report shows that the 15% is the biggest month to month increase since 2010.
- Poverty. The inability to pay for healthcare, childcare, food, education, and housing is a huge factor in falling into homelessness.
- According to the Census Bureau, in 2013, there were 45.3 million Americans in poverty.
- Children in poverty rate at 19.9 percent.
- Eroding Work Opportunities.
- The minimum wage in 2004 was 26% less than it was in 1979.
- Globalization has contributed greatly to less jobs being available in the U.S.
- Domestic Violence.
- Battered women are often forced to choose between dealing with abuse and becoming homeless.
- 63% of homeless women have experienced domestic violence in their adult lives.
- Mental Illness.
- 16% of the single adult homeless population suffers from some kind of several and persistent mental illness.
- Many mentally ill homeless people are unable to obtain supportive housing and/or other treatment services.
- The following information includes ways that we can prevent homelessness.
- Assist someone who is facing eviction in finding a local eviction prevention program.
- Consider working with a local charity or public social service agency.
- Consider volunteering in a program that helps people who have recently obtained housing so that successfully stay in the home they have.
- Help build or fix homes, Habitat for Humanity is one of the places where you can do that.
- Advocate by working with the coalition, contacting local congress, etc.
In closing: The current state of homelessness in our country is extremely problematic. We can drastically reduce this problem by volunteering, advocating, building homes, voting for individuals that have a history of supporting this cause, and contacting local public officials.
“The Hard, Cold Facts About the Deaths of Homeless People.” 4 June 2006. Web. 22 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nhchc.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/HardColdFacts.pdf>.
“Homeless Statistics.” Shelter 20. WordPress, 7 June 2009. Web. 21 Nov. 2014. <http://www.shelter20.com/homeless-statistics/>.
“October 2014 Foreclosure Market Report.” October 2014 Foreclosure Market Report. Renwood RealtyTrac LLC, 13 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://www.realtytrac.com/content/foreclosure-market-report/october-2014-foreclosure-market-report-8185>.
“The State of Homelessness in America 2014.” National Alliance to End Homelessness:. 18 Apr. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. <http://www.endhomelessness.org/library/entry/the-state-of-homelessness-2014>.
“How Many People Experience Homelessness?” National Coalition for the Homeless. 13 July 2009. Web. 22 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/How_Many.html>.
“United States Census Bureau.” About Poverty. United States Census Bureau, 16 May 2013. Web. 22 Nov. 2014. <https://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/about/overview/>.
Fagan, Joanne. “The Best Way To Stop Homelessness? Support Homeless & Eviction Prevention Programs.” Evas Village RSS. WordPress, 26 Oct. 2012. Web. 20 Nov. 2014. <http://evasvillage.org/wordpress/stop-homelessness-eviction-prevention/>.
“How YOU Can Help End Homelessness.” National Coalition for the Homeless. 17 June 2006. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nationalhomeless.org/publications/facts/you.pdf>.