Cities report that addiction is a major cause of homelessness. 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. The lack of affordable housing and the limited scale of housing assistance programs have contributed to the current housing crisis and homelessness. Recently, foreclosures have also increased the number of homeless people. Ask anyone for their opinion on the causes of homelessness and you're likely to hear about drug addiction, mental illness, alcoholism, and poverty.
While the Census Bureau has adopted a number of innovations to better incorporate the homeless population, these procedures continue to underestimate this group by not visiting many places with homeless populations. As an example, Colburn said that Detroit is one of the most impoverished cities in the country, but it has one-fifth of the homeless per capita of cities on the West Coast. In their University of California press book “Homelessness is a housing problem,” authors Clayton Page Aldern and Gregg Colburn analyzed several issues that contribute to homelessness, including mental illness and addictions, and the per capita rate of homelessness across the country. Having a mental illness or addiction makes a person more vulnerable to homelessness and makes it more difficult to find permanent housing.
Gary Warth has covered a variety of topics since 1989 and now covers the cities of San Marcos and Vista and homelessness issues in The San Diego Union-Tribune. You could fix all the addiction in San Diego right now and you would still have a problem with the homeless because there are simply no places for people with lower income levels to go. They found that states that provided more dollars to the program did not have higher rates of homelessness. Aldern, a data scientist and policy analyst from Seattle, and Colburn, an adjunct professor of real estate at the University of Washington's School of Built Environments, said they aren't suggesting that mental illness, addictions and other problems aren't contributing factors to homelessness.
The fact that a society fails to address racial inequalities, increases wages and provides affordable housing also contributes to homelessness rates. Most minority groups in the United States become homeless at higher rates than whites and therefore represent a disproportionate share of the homeless population. House prices in those states are also lower than in many cities with higher rates of homelessness, Colburn said. Even for those who remain, the price of domestic violence makes them more vulnerable to becoming homeless in the future.