Causes of Homelessness

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Homelessness is a very complex issue. There are many things that can lead to someone becoming homeless, including the following reasons.


Unemployment is always an issue for some, but has become so for more people over the last two or three years due to the economic climate. The reasons for unemployment leading to homelessness are obvious, if people lose their jobs they may no longer be able to afford to pay the mortgage or rent. This has been a particular problem due to some of the large mortgages some have. In many ways, this is all a knock on effect of the rise in house prices over the last few years.


Addiction to drugs or alcohol can take over someone's life. This can cause all sorts of social problems for the individuals involved and makes it very difficult to function properly. It is one of the most common causes of homelessness. It can lead to unemployment or relationship breakdown, which then goes on to cause homelessness.


Those in abusive families may feel they have no option but to leave their home, and if they have nowhere else they can go it may lead to homelessness. There are many young homeless who sleep on the streets and these include those who left home due to abuse. But it is also adults who can suffer abuse. Many are homeless due to abuse from their partner. This is more common with women than men.


Many who leave prison have nowhere to go and to begin with they may have no obvious income stream. This means they have no home to go to, and are unable to afford to buy or rent anywhere. Therefore, the streets may be the only option. The authorities have often been criticised for not having systems in place that can help those released from prison. It is not only homelessness that can be caused by this, but reoffending, and for some it can become a vicious cycle.


A surprising number of people end up homeless following a divorce. If a family breaks up someone will have to find somewhere new to live, and this is not necessarily easy. There may be no obvious place to go and lack of money might be a problem. Some may end up sleeping on the streets temporarily, and for a few this can lead to longer term homelessness.


In the UK a lack of social housing is sometimes a cause of homelessness. The list of those requiring housing is significantly longer than the amount of social housing available. A large part of the issue is the price of housing meaning it is unaffordable for many.


In some countries natural disasters can lead to homelessness. Obviously regions where natural disasters are more commonplace are more susceptible to this. This is less likely in richer countries where better contingency plans are usually in place, although the affects of Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005 is an example of a rich country where a natural disaster lead to many becoming homeless.

Andrew Marshall (c)

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