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Causes of Homelessness
Woodstock High School
In order to save ourselves from a reality shock, we would rather equate the reason for homelessness with factors that we will likely never encounter. It is reassuring to think that the reason for homelessness is because of a substance abuse alone. Yet, what many fail to realize is that many homeless people start out with jobs and stable residences and ultimately end up in their situation due to economic and social factors often times beyond their control.
In economics, living financially fit would indicate that you are left with excess at the end of every month. Meaning that after all bills are paid and all dues are met, you still have money left over. This money may be used for immediate indulgence, yet it is often wisely placed into savings accounts to combat the torrential effects of a rainy day. This ideal economic structure is one that few Americans are able to truthfully claim as their own.
In fact, 56% of Americans find themselves living paycheck to paycheck and having less than $1,000 in their checking and savings combined (Holmes, 2016). This economic instability is not one that is only held by members of the lower-class either. In America it far too easy to acquire things that you cannot truly afford. A man may be living in a luxurious house in the richest neighborhood driving the most expensive car with an amazing job and still be only one life event from panhandling in the city.
Understandably so, the leading cause of homelessness in America is poverty. Nearly 45 million Americans are incapable of rising above the poverty line and too find themselves working paycheck to paycheck if employed at all (Gongloff, 2014). While this lifestyle may meet ones needs for a time, living paycheck to paycheck will leave you unequipped and ill prepared to combat events such as an illness or a loss of a job. Lack of proper financial structure unfortunately leaves one far too vulnerable to unfortunate events and proves to be the quickest, most immediate cause of homelessness.
In addition to poverty, lack of affordable housing also leads as a reason for homelessness. Between the summers of 2015 and 2016 the average increase of house price in all 20 major U.S. cities was 8.44% (Delmendo, 2016), raising the median price of existing homes to $188,900 (Greenwood, 2014) . While this may prove to be beneficial to the nations economy as a whole, the increase in demand and price leaves low-income families out of luck.
A price tag like $188,900 rules home ownership out for many low-income families but finding an alternative place to rent is even more daunting. In 2013 for instance, there were only 34 affordable units for every 100 low-income renters (Doran, 2015). And in accordance to the basic laws of economics, an increase in demand with a low supply drives the prices up. Which accounts for 80 percent of households making less than 15,000 annually being forced to spend more than 30% of their income on rent and leaving out necessities such as food and health-care (Doran, 2015).
For a low-income family, these factors are anything but independent of one another. Living paycheck to paycheck because of the taxing expense of housing leaves one without a savings account and proper insurance. The lack of a savings account and proper insurance increases the vulnerability to environmental factors and ultimately makes one more susceptible to homelessness.
Substance Abuse is often thought to be leading causes of homelessness yet while many homeless people do in fact struggle with substance abuse, addictions should be viewed as an effect of homelessness rather than a cause. Environmental factors lead as the main reason for substance abuse and while there is no excuse, such actions are a little more understandable given that they have often lost everything they own.
In addition to substance abuse, the fact that all homeless people are simply uneducated high school dropouts also continues to cloud the minds of many who fail to look beyond the surface. However, the average unemployment of college degree holders continues to rise annually and with increasing costs of tuition and the average student loan debt at $37,172 (Gitlen, 2016), over 25,000 (US Conference of Mayors Report, 2007) degree holders are left on the streets.
Ultimately, Homelessness is a problem. We as a society choose to turn a blind eye on the homeless often times questioning how one ended up so low. We distance ourselves from their situations and decide that it was entirely their fault for being where they are. Instead of making such ignorant accusations it must be understood that while the homeless may look or smell different, they are human beings separated by one life event.
Delmendo, L. C. (2016, July 26). How much longer can the U.S. housing market grow at this amazing rate? Financial Overview. Retrieved from Global Property Guide database.
Doran, L. (2015, July 21). Report: Affordable Housing Increasingly Unavailable to Low-Income Renters.
Gitlen, J. (2016, July 1). Student Loan Debt Statistics.
Gongloff, M. (2014, September 16). 45 Million Americans Still Stuck Below Poverty Line: Census [Newsgroup post].
Greenwood, A. (2014, March 13). The Median Home Price Is $188,900. Here’s What That Actually Buys You. [Newsgroup post].
Holmes, J. (2016, January 12). More Than Half of Americans Reportedly Have Less Than $1,000 to Their Name [Newsgroup post].
US Conference of Mayors Report 2007. (n.d.). Homeless Statistics.
Causes of Homelessness 1 the leading cause of homelessness in America is poverty. Nearly 45 million Americans are incapable of rising above the poverty line and too find themselves working paycheck to paycheck if employed at all (Gongloff, 2014). While this lifestyle may meet ones needs for a time, living paycheck to paycheck will leave you unequipped and ill prepared to combat events such as an illness or a loss of a job. Lack of proper financial structure unfortunately leaves one far too vulnerable to unfortunate events and proves to be the quickest, most immediate cause of homelessness.
In addition to substance abuse, the fact that all homeless people are simply uneducated high school dropouts also continues to cloud the minds of many who fail to look be