Causes of Homelessness

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People have complications in their lives that make them more susceptible to becoming homeless. When these problems are reinforced they can result in a downward spiral. If they don't get the help needed in time they could end up living on the streets. Some of the complications include addiction, mental illness, lack of affordable healthcare, domestic violence, decline in public assistance, eroding work opportunities and housing, and poverty. The 2006 United States Conference of Mayors "Hunger and Homelessness Survey" reports that approximately 26% of the homeless population is dealing with issues of substance abuse (Addiction, 2006). Another study shows that 38% have an addiction with alcohol and 26% reports problems with other drugs (National Care for the Homeless Council, 2007). This is not to say that all people with addictions will become homeless, just that it is one of the leading causes of homelessness. Among surveyed homeless people, 39% have some form of mental problems and SAMHSHA estimates that 20-25% meet criteria for serious mental health illness (National Care for the Homeless Council, 2007). Many mentally ill homeless people are unable to obtain access to supportive housing and/ or treatment services. Low-income families with mental disorders are at increased risk of homelessness (Mental Illness, 2006). Poor health is closely associated with homelessness. For families and individuals struggling to pay rent, a serious illness or disability can start a downward spiral into homelessness, beginning with a lost job, depletion of savings to pay for care, and eventual eviction. According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2004 nearly a third of persons living in poverty had no health insurance of any kind. The coverage held by many others would not carry them through a catastrophic illness (Homeless Facts and Figures, 2007). The rates of both chronic and acute health problems are extremely high among the homeless population. Many homeless people have multiple...
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