Despite being one of the richest countries in the world, there are an estimated 553,742 homeless people in America. A vast majority (66 percent) of this population live in a shelter or transitional housing. Unfortunately, that leaves 34 percent of homeless people in America live in a place that is not meant for human habitation. If you’ve been to an American city then you’ve seen homeless individuals on the street. What you don’t see is who these individuals are, how they got to this point, and how you can help them. Thanks to the National Alliance to End Homelessness we have access to this information.
The largest population of homeless individuals are single adults. Of the 408,891 homeless individuals that are single adults, 70 percent are men, 29 percent are women and 1 percent identified as transgender or non-gender conforming. An estimated 171,575 individuals in families identified as homeless in 2020. This was the first year since 2010 that family homelessness did not decrease. In the same year, 37,252 veterans experience homelessness. Of that population, 91.3 percent are men and 8.4% are women. Every night, thousands of America’s youth spend the night without shelter or a family. There are 34,210 homeless youth, and 90 percent of that population are between 18 and 24 years old. That leaves 10 percent of homeless children being under the age of 18.
There are multiple reasons an individual may find themselves without a home. In America, most individuals become homeless because they cannot afford to pay for housing. This may be due to unemployment or underemployment, little to no access to transportation and resources, or work is not an option due to disability. A person may be subject to chronic homelessness because health conditions become disabling, which results in losing the ability to work, and rent is too difficult to keep up with. Homeless individuals may be escaping domestic violence or an abusive relationship. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness a 2019 study found that “homeless services providers had more than 48,000 beds set aside for survivors of domestic violence.
What can we do to help this population? You are off to a good start by visiting this site! You are taking action, and you can also tell Congress to increase annual homelessness funding and support emergency recovery legislation. You can donate to organizations like the National Alliance to End Homelessness, The Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity, and many more.
The first step is educating yourself and those around you. Homeless individuals are not defined by their situation. There are real people behind those circumstances and it’s important that people like us, people who care, do what we can to help.