For those of us who are fortunate enough to have always had a roof over our head, the idea of becoming homeless can be hard to understand. Everyone goes through hard times, but how does someone let it get to that point? Most people will assume there is some kind of addiction involved, and while that is true in some cases, the truth is there are a lot of different circumstances that lead to someone sleeping on the street.
According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, the three main causes of homelessness are lack of affordable housing, unemployment and poverty. It doesn’t take a law expert to see that those three things are extremely closely linked.
Unemployment is the biggest, most obvious of these issues. Most Americans don’t have months of expenses saved away and when someone loses their job (like in a pandemic) it doesn’t take long to go through the money they do have. Even if someone doesn’t lose their job, a new continual expense, such as a medical issue, can create a situation where they simply aren’t making enough money to meet their basic needs. This is why untreated mental health problems are a huge problem within the homeless community.
Of course, this just touches on the many reasons people become homeless. Everyone’s story is different. Some people run away from abusive homes, others fall into depression after a trauma, and yes, some people succumb to addiction. But taking the time to understand how someone came to be in the situation they are in helps us see them as human and not just another homeless person sleeping on the street.