For women in particular, domestic violence is a major cause of homelessness. 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. In a country where housing costs 1 in 7 households more than half of their income, structural flaws that generate additional costs act as a slippery path to homelessness. These failures include the lack of economic recessions, stagnant wages, inaccessibility to health care, and discriminatory housing practices. These circumstances make it difficult for families and individuals to obtain food, education, and other life support services.
Without these essential services, it's impossible to guarantee a home. Your gift to Family Promise helps us prevent and end homelessness in more than 200 communities across the U.S. UU. People who are left homeless are no different or separate from the rest of the population.
In fact, the line between being housed and not being homeless is quite fluid. In general, the routes in and out of the homeless are not linear or uniform. Homeless individuals and families may not have much in common with each other, other than the fact that they are extremely vulnerable and lack adequate housing and income and the necessary supports to ensure that they stay housed. The causes of homelessness reflect an intricate interplay between structural factors, system failures, and individual circumstances.
Homelessness is often the result of the cumulative impact of several factors, rather than a single cause. Homelessness and poverty are inextricably linked. Impoverished people often cannot afford their needs such as housing, food, child care, health care and education. Poverty can mean that a person is one illness, accident, or paycheck away from living on the street.
The critical shortage of affordable, safe and stable housing directly contributes to homelessness. The millions of Canadian families and individuals who live in conditions of extreme need (who pay more than 50% of their income on housing) are at serious risk of becoming homeless, as are families and individuals who spend more than 30% of their income on housing. Arguably the most impactful factor is the lack of affordable housing across the country; however, discrimination can prevent access to employment, housing, justice and useful services. Racial and sexual minorities are at greater risk of experiencing such discrimination.
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, as people, both men and women, often need to get out quickly and find a place where their abuser can't find them.