Homelessness affects people in a variety of ways. Some people are homeless only for a day, while others are homeless for months or years. Regardless of the reason why someone is homeless, each of us can do our part to alleviate their suffering. We can volunteer at local homeless shelters, give money, or offer food and clothing.
In the United States, 580,466 people were homeless in January 2020. The homeless population comprises all ethnic and racial groups, and is found in every state. However, some groups are more likely than others to become homeless. As a result, policies and services have often focused on addressing the specific needs of these groups.
The most common reason people become homeless is a lack of affordable housing. The recent economic downturn has made it difficult for many to afford their mortgage payments or rent. In some cases, people are unable to find work, either because of the recession or a physical or mental illness. Other people may lose their jobs and become homeless until they can find another one. In addition, many homeless people struggle with addictions that drain their financial resources and negatively impact their health.
Fortunately, there are many community organizations and social movements dedicated to alleviating homelessness. These organizations aim to break down stereotypical ideas of the homeless. For example, they aim to show that people experiencing homelessness are not criminals, weak, or drug addicts. These groups are also dedicated to making sure that the voice of the homeless is heard by policymakers.
Another common cause of homelessness is war, natural disasters, or personal hardship. For example, many people experience homelessness after experiencing domestic abuse or a medical emergency. For this reason, they frequently turn to family, friends, or neighbors for shelter. However, these individuals usually are unable to pay for rent or other living expenses.
Homelessness is a growing problem in the United States. According to a recent report by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly half of the nation’s homeless population is concentrated in urban areas. New York City and Los Angeles alone contain over one-fourth of the homeless population. According to the HUD, homelessness is often classified as sheltered or unsheltered. The unsheltered homeless often sleep in cars, abandoned buildings, or other non-designated places.
While overall homelessness is on the decline, subpopulations of the homeless have experienced faster declines than others. Some subpopulations have received more attention and resources. There are also factors that are outside of the homeless services system that can impact the outcomes. Nevertheless, the overall trend for homelessness is still encouraging. However, long-term progress has been slow and uneven.
Homeless people in the UK have a legal duty to be housed and local councils can offer advice to help them find a home. They can also contact local homeless charities, which may be able to offer emergency accommodation and basic necessities.