Causes and Solutions of Homelessness in America


In our everyday life, especially as residents of Miami, it is not uncommon to see homeless people on the street, or street light, begging for money. However, how many times do you see someone actually help them? Rare to none, right? Americans have come to the conclusion, or rather illusion, that if we ignore these people in need they will eventually go away. Yet this has proven to be a false concept, as homelessness has remained a prevalent problem worldwide throughout centuries.

This issue currently affects 1.4 billion people worldwide.

Homelessness, as described by Cambridge Dictionary, is the state of being without a home. Throughout this speech I will focus on three main points. These are: the causes of homelessness, statistics of homelessness, and solutions to homelessness. Falling into homelessness is not as uncommon as some may think. There are many circumstances that are experienced by humans on an everyday basis throughout the world’s population that may lead to this problem.

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The world has been trying to solve this issue for years, but as long as there are people out there experiencing these things, it will be nearly impossible to do so. This leads me to my first main point, the causes of homelessness.


Exactly what causes homelessness is debated on by many professionals, they argue that the causes vary based on environment. If the climate is warm, more people are likely to take to the streets, whereas if the climate is cold people will usually seek shelter. There are however specific causes which are most widely accepted.

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Lack of affordable housing is one of the main causes of homelessness. The National Low Income Housing Coalition estimated that the Housing Wage in 2017 was $21.21 per hour. This means that the hourly wage that a renter hoping to afford a two bedroom home would need to earn is $13.96 higher than the national minimum wage of $7.25. It does not help that foreclosure rates have recently increased, and with it the amount of people who are homeless.

When asked to think of a place with prevalent poverty, many of us would skip over America as an option. This would be a mistake. In 2016, there were 40.6 million people living in poverty in the USA. Poor people are commonly unable to pay for food, health care, education, and housing. When prioritizing what little money they have, many people make a choice to drop housing from their list of expenses. This is due to the fact that housing takes up such a big portion of people’s income. Public assistance could mean the difference between a roof over your head or the streets if it takes care of your necessities, for example food stamps take care of your groceries. There is now a decline in the availability of public assistance.

This includes services to assist families with food, housing, and medical care. Medical bills are costly, and many people who are diagnosed with a serious illness or disability cannot afford them. These people must spend their life’s savings on paying off medical bills which starts a slow descend into homelessness when they can’t make ends meet. 16% of the single adult homeless population suffers from some form of severe and persistent mental illness. The U.S. Conference of Mayors surveyed the country and found that half of the states identified domestic violence as a primary cause of homelessness. When mistreated people live in poverty, they are forced to choose between an abusive relationship and homelessness.

Many homelessness researchers find that it is best to speak about homelessness with numbers. It is hard to look at homelessness from a world point of view because of the fact that each country has their own definition of “homeless”, and it is hard to count those that are known as “hidden homeless”, or people who may be living in places not intended for living in, such as streets, vehicles, slums, squatting, and couch-surfing with friends and family. There is an estimated 1.4 billion homeless people worldwide. In America, there is a yearly homelessness report assessment done. In 2019, the report found that around 568,000 people were experiencing some sort of homelessness in January. This means that there was a 3% increase since 2018. Unfortunately, the number of people living unsheltered rose by 9%. Sixty-three percent of homeless people had some sort of shelter, such as an emergency shelter, safe haven, or transitional housing.

The report found that 171,670 people were homeless families with children. Twenty seven percent of the homeless population, which averages out to 152,698 people, were under the age of 25. African Americans made up 40% of the homeless population, and Whites accounted for 48%. Almost half of the homeless population was distributed in 3 states: California, New York, and Florida. In Florida alone, 31,030 people were homeless in 2018. Thats 3 out of 2,000 people. Out of the homeless population, 9,587 people were families. Unaccompanied children and youth accounted for 1,892 people. Forty three percent of homeless people in Florida were unsheltered. When surveying the school systems, it was found that 72,042 public school students experienced homelessness over the course of the school year, and 2,001 reported being unsheltered. By now we see that the problem of homelessness is one that needs a solution. With so many people affected, governments all over the world are working hard to end this issue.

Countries have approached this subjects either through legal acts, or through programs and services specialized for the homeless. The McKinney-Vento Act was passed in 1987, but has continued to impact the way we tackle homelessness to this day. Through this Act, the federal government gives funds to subnational state and municipal governments, as well as private agencies in order for housing and related services to be administered to the homeless population. Another act that was passed in order to fight the increase of homeless people was the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act (HEARTH), which was included in the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act. These were meant to help reduce new homelessness episodes, returns to homelessness, and length of homelessness.

Many programs have been set up but the most popular ones are Special Needs Assistance Programs (SNAPs) and the Housing First initiative. SNAPs provide funding for emergency shelters, supportive housing programs for people diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities, housing for unsheltered people living with HIV/AIDS, and rental assistance for individuals and families who were unsheltered or “at risk” of becoming so. Housing First is exactly what it sounds like, this program focuses on finding the homeless population a house first, and then a means to keep it. Research shows that its cheaper in the long run to fund Housing First programs because it reduces the rates of relapsing into homelessness. This program along with the Samaritan Housing Initiative has helped many people come off the streets and find a home. The Samaritan Housing Initiative develops permanent housing designated for populations categorized as chronically homeless.


In conclusion, throughout this essay I have told you about the causes, statistics, and solutions to homelessness. Since homelessness is more common than we think, we must stay educated on the causes in order to prevent falling into this predicament.

Updated: Dec 09, 2021
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Causes and Solutions of Homelessness in America. (2021, Dec 09). Retrieved from

Causes and Solutions of Homelessness in America essay
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