Understanding Homelessness: Top Reasons Why People Lose Their Homes

Reasons for Homelessness

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There are many people who do not have roofs on their heads; or simply put, they are homeless. Homelessness seems to be an abstract concept to some. But why should it be when a person can see a homeless person daily?

Homelessness is a pervasive condition as there are homeless people all over the world, even in developed countries.

But what causes homelessness?

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, there are many reasons that account for the lack of roof over one’s head. There are two main factors that contribute to the increasing number of homelessness according to the coalition—the increasing poverty incidence and growing shortage of reasonably priced housing.

Let us go through some of the major reasons on why there are many people who have no shelters or homes to keep.

Rising home foreclosures

The number of homes being foreclosed has risen in recent years which contributed to the rising homelessness. Based on the data released by the National Coalition for the Homeless there had been a jump of around 39 percent of home foreclosures during the April 2008 and April 2009 period. The period coincides with the beginning of the US recession where around six million jobs were lost due to the financial crisis.

Take note that the financial crisis in those years were spurred by the overextension of housing loans, and as such, the date from the National Low Income Housing Coalition revealed that around 40 percent were facing possible eviction for foreclosures in May of 2009.

Poverty Incidence

There is a direct link between poverty and homelessness. Those who are impoverished are unable to afford their bare necessities such as food, health care, education, childcare and housing. And in times of poverty, there is a tendency for homeowners to stop paying for their housing which takes a big bulk from their income.

There are two major reasons for the increase in the number of poor families—the decline of available public assistance or welfare support and the lack of employment opportunities.

It is no secret that the advanced nations like the United States and the European countries have had low employment opportunities in recent years. Americans were put out of jobs when the financial markets and the US economy, as well suffered major beatings in recent years.

Likewise, European countries also suffered from the Euro zone crisis and their residents have had to suffer losses including the loss of their jobs.

Lack of affordable housing

But even before the US economic recession in 2008 and 2009, there already was a problem with the affordability of homes in the US.

The Housing and Urban Development of HUD, there had been a shortage of reasonably priced home that are available for those who are earning very low incomes. In a 2003 study, for example, it was noted that there had been a fall of 49 percent on the support of the federal government for the low-income housing segment from 1980 to 2003.  And low income families often decide to rent rather than buy their homes.

In addition, there has been a decline in income but the rent rates continue to rise. The absence of affordable housing has resulted in an overburdened community that has contributed to the overcrowding and sub-par housing. Substandard housing and overcrowding have pushed a large number of people to homelessness or exposed families to the possibility of becoming homeless.

Other reasons that contribute to homelessness

There are also other reasons that push people to become homeless. The absence of affordable health care in the United States also results in homelessness. Poor families or low income families have trouble paying for their rent of housing mortgages when a family member becomes too ill. These families spend whatever resources they have to pay for the medical expenses rather than pay for their homes.

Domestic violence also contributes to the increasing number of homelessness. Many battered women who are poor either choose to stay with their abusive partners or go homeless.

Mental illness likewise is also a reason for homelessness. One study conducted in 2005 showed that around 16 percent of the single adult homeless group is suffering from some mental illness.

Watch this insightful video on the other reason why people go homeless. 



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