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A look at some of the causes of and contributing factors to homelessness in the United States.


Causes of Homelessness

Behind HomelessnessA look at some of the causes and contributing factorsA slideshow by The Missionaries of the Sacred Heart USA Province

Photo Credit City Housing by Peter Griffin linkPhoto Credit: Philly apartment by Tom Leeds link

High cost of housingIn 2005, a survey by the Census Bureau showed that 5.9 million households in the U.S. are:

renters without housing assistance with incomes below 50% of the area median, & are paying over 50% of their income for rent

High cost of housing continuedBetween 2001 and 2007, affordable unassisted rental housing stock in the U.S. decreased by 6.3%. During the same period, high-rent rental housing stock increased by 94.3%.

Even before the current economic crisis, 70% of extremely low income renter households spent more than 50% of their income on rent.

What is the unemployment rate in your state?Photo Credit: Power Plant by Petr Kratochvil link

Unemployment (and underemployment)Loss of a job or cut hours affect a households ability to pay for housing.

Putting a face and a name on homelessness: Michael had a job until the economic downturn. Watch Michael talk about his experience with homelessness on InvisiblePeople TV (link)

Unemployment (and underemployment)Lack of education credentials and transportation make it more difficult to find a job.

These obstacles frequently affect homeless people, in both urban and rural areas.

Question for reflection: Does the town or city you live in have a good system of public transportation? Photo Credit: Clunker" by Scott Meltzer link

Photo for illustration only

Re-entry from incarcerationEvery year, over 650,000 people are released from prisons and more than 7 million people are released from jails in the U.S.

Putting a face and a name on homelessness: Angelo had trouble finding a job after he got of prison. Watch Angelo talk about his experience with homelessness on InvisiblePeople TV (link)A Probation and Parole Officer with the Missouri Department of Corrections interviews a probationer.

See photo source

Photo for illustration only

Substance Addiction and Mental IllnessAround one third (36%) of all homeless adults have chronic substance abuse issues and one fifth (26%) struggle with severe mental illness. Did You Know?Jails and prisons treat more people with mental illness than hospitals and residential treatment facilities combined. This means that our jails and prisons are the primary providers of mental health care services in the United States.

Photo for illustration only

Putting a face and a name on homelessness:

Frank became homeless because of a drug addiction. Watch Frank talk about his experience with homelessness on InvisiblePeople TV (link)

Violence against women is a major cause of homelessness among women. Photo for illustration only

Domestic ViolenceAlmost 12% of all sheltered homeless people are recent victims of domestic violence.

NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE: 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) 1.800.787.3224 (TTY) for illustration only

The EndWe hope you enjoyed this slideshow. If you would like to learn about more social justices issues, ways you can get involved, and Catholic Social Teaching, please visit our website and sign up to receive JPIC Corner, our free, monthly social justice e-newsletter.

Sources:The information in this slideshow came from the Supplemental Document to the Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness: June 2010. Specific citations, as cited in that document, are below.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research. (2007, May). Affordable Housing Needs 2005: Report to Congress. Washington, DCCollinson, R. & Winter, B. (2010, January). U.S. Rental Housing Characteristics: Supply, Vacancy, and Affordability. HUD PD&R Working Paper 10-01. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.. Affordable here means affordable to households earning at or below 60% of the local area median income (AMI), excluding subsidized unites or no cash rent unites. High rent defined as affordable to households earning at or above 100% of AMI.Economic News Release, Employment Situation Summary, February 4, 2011 (link)Long, D., Rio, J., & Rosen, J. (2007, September). Employment and Income Supports for Homeless People. Toward Understanding Homelessness: The 2007 National Symposium on Homelessness Research. Washington, D.C: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 5. Minton, T. & Sabol, W. (2008, June 6). Jail Inmates at Midyear 2007. Washington, D.C: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. 6.Burt, M. (2001). What will it take to End Homelessness? Washington, DC: Urban Institute Press. 7.Corporation for Supportive Housing. (2009). Getting Out with Nowhere to Go: the Case for Re-entry Supportive Housing. New York.

Photo Credits:Slide #1: #2: Photo is in the public domain. Photo by Tom LeedsSlide #3: Slides #4 and #5: Henrik5000Slide # 6: Photo is in the public domain. Photo by Petr KratochvilSlide #7: Slide #8: #9: Photo is in the public domain. Photo by Scott MeltzerSlide #10: #11: Photo is in the public domain. Author: Missouri Department of CorrectionsSlide #12: #13: #14: Yuri_ArcursSlides # 15 and #16: #16: