November is National Homeless Awareness month, and a big part of raising awareness for homelessness is understanding the causes of it. Homelessness is something that affects people everywhere. According to the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there are more than 610,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night. The biggest factor that leads to homelessness is the loss of a job. The diagram shows the main factors of homelessness but there are other factors as well like lack of affordable housing, natural disasters and traumatic experiences.
So how do we fix the rising number of people becoming homeless? Since homelessness is defined as lack of housing the number one way to make a dent in ending homelessness is to offer housing solutions, such as affordable housing or long term shelter options. Once a person has a place to call home they will often have a sense of security and begin to be able to hold a job and begin to focus on other matters such as mental issues, substance problems, education and basic health care needs.
Housing however is not the only solution. Someone who faces homelessness will need access to services. A person needs access to health care, this includes basic health care needs, behavioral and mental health care as well. Transportation services to get a person to appointments and interviews is vital, along with transportation an important service that is often needed is affordable childcare.
An important key to ending homelessness besides available housing and access to services is creating human connections. It is far too easy for a person facing such a life altering experience like homelessness to feel lonely, depressed or even suicidal. Often when a person is not in the same living situation as another there is a separation of “us” and “them”. This is a flawed view we need to as a society focus on including and connecting one another versus separating those who are different. When community members come together it often leads to a positive change and more voices are often heard.
Putting an end to homelessness is not going to happen overnight, but with enough awareness, intervention and programs geared to preventing and helping people who face homelessness a change can be made!