Probably the most common stereotype of chronically homeless people is that they are addicted to drugs and alcohol for good reason. While low wages contribute to homelessness, unemployment is also an important factor. The causes of unemployment vary and some countries have higher rates than others. Once a person is unemployed for a while, they can easily fall into destitution.
Research shows that most homeless people want to work, but face obstacles, such as not having a permanent address. On a global scale, poverty is one of the most important root causes of homelessness. Stagnant wages, unemployment, and the high costs of housing and health care contribute to poverty. Not being able to afford essential items such as housing, food, education and more greatly increases the risk for an individual or family.
To effectively address homelessness, governments and organizations must address poverty. Often, substance abuse occurs before becoming homeless, while other times it is a habit that is acquired as a result of being on the street, almost as a survival mechanism. Substance abuse looks different for everyone and can be a battle against drugs, alcohol, or even a combination of both. On its own, substance abuse isn't what causes a person to lose their home, but it can tear families apart and be the reason someone loses their job.
The lack of employment opportunities is one of the causes of poverty in the United States, and if someone is suddenly faced with an illness or accident, the medical bills can be overwhelming enough to force them to leave their home. Struggling to deal with the death of a loved one or other major trauma causes pain, and people will numb their pain with addiction. Addiction and apathy lead to the loss of work and home. They just stop caring if they live or die.
Grief becomes an obstacle to living. The longer men and women spend homeless, the harder it will be to combat the lies they hear in their heads. They believe that there is no way out. They will never be free from addiction.
More than anything, these men and women need hope. Mental health is a recurring factor among people who live on the street and is often the reason why many people become chronically homeless. While this isn't the only reason why people become homeless, it's certainly a major factor. This is one of the most common causes of homelessness in specific situations, as people, both men and women, often need to get out quickly and find a place where their abuser can't find them.
The reasons are based on racial inequalities, such as racial discrimination in housing and incarceration. Many people believe that there is a “one-size-fits-all type”, but, as you'll see, this isn't really the case.