Homeless in the United States


Homelessness is the lack of a permanent and adequate place to sleep. A person may experience this condition as a result of eviction, poverty, domestic violence, or a lack of job opportunities in their community. In the United States, homelessness is a major problem with significant social and economic costs. The plight of the homeless has drawn attention from politicians and civic leaders and has led to the development of local, state, and federal programs designed to assist those affected by this issue. There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding the topic of homelessness, with some arguing that people experiencing it simply choose to live that way or can easily pick themselves up by their bootstraps. These beliefs contribute to the lack of public understanding and support for efforts to address the issue.

In the United States, homelessness has increased significantly since the early 1980s as a result of various factors, including gentrification in urban centers, deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, high unemployment rates, a lack of affordable housing options, a surge in the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, and deep budget cuts to HUD and other social service agencies. The Great Recession of 2008 and its aftermath have also contributed to the increase in homelessness in the United States.

The most prevalent type of homelessness in the United States is what is known as episodic or cyclical homelessness. This type of homelessness typically occurs as a result of a sudden catastrophic life change or event, such as a loss of employment, illness, domestic abuse, or eviction. People who are homeless due to this type of circumstance may live in temporary shelters or stay with friends, family members, or strangers while they attempt to find more stable housing arrangements. This group of people is often referred to as the “hidden homeless.”

There are different subgroups within the general population of the homeless, including single adult men, women, and children, families with children, individuals in rural areas, and those living with mental health conditions. In her report to the Human Rights Council at its 31st session, Special Rapporteur on the right to housing Leilani Farha noted that a number of these groups are especially vulnerable to homelessness.

It is important to understand that while the causes of homelessness are complex and varied, there is a clear link between the enjoyment of the right to housing and a person’s overall quality of life. This is why it is essential to ensure that all individuals and families have access to secure and affordable housing in a suitable environment.

There are many ways to prevent and address the issues that cause homelessness. One method that has proven successful is providing transitional housing for the formerly homeless to help them establish long-term stability. Another method is supporting programs that provide education and employment to those who are unemployed or underemployed, thereby increasing their earning potential. Finally, it is imperative to address the root causes of the problem, such as the lack of affordable housing and the societal structures that create inequitable access to jobs and adequate incomes.