Cities report that addiction 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 with 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.
A 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. The idea that homelessness is an option is a myth. Homelessness is a complex problem comprised of social failures and individual circumstances that leave no better alternatives. That's why Family Promise works to keep you informed and supports homeless families.
Your gift to Family Promise helps us prevent and end homelessness in more than 200 communities in the U.S. UU. Homeless people are no different or separate from the rest of the population. In fact, the line between being hosted and not being hosted 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 can't 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 living 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. Many people believe that there is a “one-size-fits-all” type, but, as you'll see, this isn't really the case.
This is one of the most common causes of situational homelessness, as people, both men and women, often need to get out quickly and find a place where their abuser can't find them. While this isn't the only reason people become homeless, it's certainly a major factor. Family violence, which is estimated to affect 237 victims per 100,000 people (Statistics Canada, 201), can force individuals and families to leave their homes suddenly, without adequate support. Changes in the economy, both nationally and locally, can create challenges for people to earn an adequate income, pay for food and housing.
Mental health is a recurring factor among people who live on the street and is often the reason why many people become chronically homeless. System failures occur when other care and support systems fail, requiring vulnerable people to turn to the homeless sector, when other conventional services could have avoided this need. Youth who are victims of sexual, physical, or psychological abuse often end up homeless. .