Root Causes of Homelessness

Published By: Shafiqul Bhuiya

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During any given night, there are around 2,000 homeless individuals in Central Florida. This population includes men, women, and children across many different backgrounds. The cause of their homelessness is as varied as the homeless individuals themselves. The causes can be multifaceted and complex. It is usually thought that individuals who experience homelessness do so because of personal difficulties, such as drug and alcohol abuse, however it has shown to be a lot more complicated than that. 


According to the National Law Center of Homelessness and Poverty, the leading cause of homelessness is insufficient income and the lack of affordable housing. The reason for insufficient income can include loss of income, low wages, or unemployment. Additionally, unemployment can be due to a variety of reasons, such as a challenging labor market, unreliable transportation, or poor health/disability. Any disruption of income that occurs can cause a financial crisis for low-earning families, which may lead to a loss of housing.


In conjunction with a lack of income, families, and individuals at the brink of homelessness are faced with skyrocketing prices for housing. Low-income earners are at extreme risk of homelessness due to wages not keeping up with the dramatic increase in housing costs. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, Americans have not seen an increase in their weekly wages in the past 30 years. This stagnation of income, combined with the steep incline of low-cost housing, leave many individuals and families in danger of becoming homeless. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, at Florida’s minimum wage of $8.65, a worker would have to work an average of 93 hours a week in order to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Florida at fair-market rent. Additionally, they contend that no state in the United States has an adequate amount of affordable rental housing for low-income renters. This situation creates a perfect storm for an increase in the rate of homelessness. 


For women, a leading cause of homelessness is domestic violence. During instances of domestic violence, victims flee their homes, sometimes with none of their belongings. It is reported that nationally around 50% of all women who are homeless cite domestic violence as the top contributor. Additionally, many victims of domestic violence have been subjected to economic abuse as well. They were not allowed access to the family finances or they were prohibited from working. Furthermore, victims are often limited in housing options due to various safety reasons. 


    Even though the situation homeless individuals find themselves in is challenging, there is hope. For low-income families and individuals, there are various programs, such as job training and placement programs, that can help provide tools that will allow for stable, long-term employment. Additionally, improving access to supportive services, such as transportation and child-care services, will go far in helping individuals stay employed. For those who cannot work, there are many programs, such as SSI, TNAF, and SNAP, which they may apply for in order to maintain stable housing. For victims of domestic violence, specific and directed programs as well as adequate funding for those services would help many victims in finding and maintaining affordable housing.


A common stereotype found in our society is that all homeless individuals abuse drugs and alcohol. It is true that a high percentage of homeless individuals do suffer from substance abuse, however the reality is much more complicated than that. Many individuals and families are caught in the difficult cycle of homelessness due to a variety of reasons. In addition to the already mentioned reasons, people can find themselves experiencing homelessness due to a lack of support for mental health, aging out of foster care, and racial disparities. Knowing the root causes as to why people experience homelessness will help us find solutions to their difficult situations.



About the author
Shafiqul Bhuiya
Shafiqul Bhuiya is a Bangladeshi-American from Bronx, New York. He has graduated with a Masters in Biomedical Sciences from the University of Central Florida and aspires to become a Physician Assistant. He is currently working as a Molecular Technologist in Infectious Disease testing. Shafiqul enjoys exercising, playing video games, and volunteering with Project Downtown Orlando during his free time. He believes in the power of proper healthcare and the hope it can bring to people in need.

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