Homelessness is described as not having a permanent place or home to reside
in. A homeless person’s home is therefore either in shelters or in the streets. There are
several reasons why people become (or choose to be) homeless, and the accumulation
of factors that lead to it vary for each individual. Homelessness does not care whether a
person is young, has a family, is male or female, or are single adults. Some of the most
prominent factors that lead to homelessness are as listed: personal choice, poverty,
substance abuse, domestic violence, limited assistance services, unemployment, and
limited support services. The effects of homelessness also vary and are felt differently
among the homeless, communities, and business communities (Friedman and Danny
pp. 19). Effects of being homeless are: personal, health, abuse, familial, and societal.
Despite having plenty of reasons why people become homeless and why it has different
effects on them, we will only touch upon a few common ones.
Poverty is one of the biggest factors for causing homelessness. Poverty is when
a person lacks the wealth or resources to maintain a proper standard of living.
Occasionally, where someone has nothing to count on for income, they are forced to
choose their priorities. Should they choose: transport, childcare, food, healthcare, or
housing—which one should come first? According to a survey conducted in the US,
many homeless people are usually employed; however, wages are not always enough
to ensure their housing stability (Shinn and Marybeth pp.20-22). Many of these
employed individuals were found not to have jobs that provide high job security and
proper living wages. And of course, unemployment is also a major cause of people
becoming homeless. When people lose their jobs or fail to find one within a reasonable
amount of time, in many cases, they will not be able to rent or mortgage a place for
living and will be forced to look for shelter elsewhere. In such cases, homelessness can
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be a friend staying at another friend’s place, or, as implied with homelessness, staying
on the street.
Domestic violence is another cause of homelessness. This issue involves
occasions where children, women, and sometimes men, are physically, mentally, and/or
emotionally abused. Families where the parents fight, on many occasions, results in
their children becoming homeless (Friedman and Danny pp. 19). This violence may be
due to several reasons, but still, results in homelessness. Another cause of
homelessness is mental illness and/or substance abuse. According to statistics carried
out in the US, it was found that this factor is found in 8% of all homeless cases. Youth
and children around the age of 15 are most affected by substance abuse. Mental illness
does not choose on age, but it may be due to biological factors or social factors (Shinn
and Marybeth pp.20-22). In certain cases, family members will reject the substance
abuser, while in other cases an abuser might run from their home and become
voluntarily homeless.
Being homeless, for some, is a choice. This circumstance is often rare, but
should not be overlooked. This occurs dependent on an individual’s reasons, which in
plenty of cases is due to rural to urban migration, or someone being tired of the burden
of life (Nooe., et al. pp. 105-120).
Homelessness has many effects on communities, business communities, and the
homeless themselves. Death is one of these effects. Homeless people die for various
reasons: some may die from being abused, beaten, or murdered; some from
malnutrition and a lack of food; and some may die from drug overdoses. Out of every
four deaths of homeless individuals, one of them is murder. Also, a homeless person
has a life expectancy of a reduced 20 years below the average of that country’s
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standard (Edidin., et al. pp. 354-367). Homeless children and adults are also at a
greater risk of serious health problems. The homeless are always exposed to unsanitary
living conditions and, on many occasions, eat unhealthy food. Common health
problems among the homeless are leg ulcers, respiratory infections, tuberculosis,
pneumonia, and HIV/AIDS—among others.

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