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Homelessness in America

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Homelessness in America

Here in Tahoe, we are lucky enough to experience a great quality of life, and only a few have to face the horrible life of poverty and homelessness. However, nationwide, even right outside the basin, homelessness is a growing epidemic across the country. There are many ways one can become homeless; for the most part poverty. There are also different concentrations of homeless in different types of terrain, such as urban or suburban areas. Last, there is the ever- growing homeless population, and how much money it costs us for others to live in poverty. These are the questions we ask ourselves about homelessness, and the only way we can help is to know the facts about this lingering subject.

The biggest reason people are homeless is simply because of poverty. They just can't afford to have a place to live and food in their mouths. As of 2000, 11.3% of the US population lived in poverty.(1) The number of people in extreme poverty has been increasing since 1999, accounting for 39% of people in poverty, and making less than half the amount of income a person considered in poverty makes.(3) With this amount of people living in poverty, it's no wonder why there are so many homeless today. The reason people are in poverty is because of inflation since the 70's, and the loss of affordable housing projects.(4) This accounts for almost all homeless, but there are also other factors that can contribute as well. There are many people with addiction problems that make them homeless. It's not because they are addicted to drugs, because many people live quite well with an addiction problem, but they could be in a hard point financially, and could be driven to the streets because of money issues. The hard part for them is getting off the streets once they're on them. Since so much of their money goes to drugs, most drug addicts can't overcome being homeless once they have been for more than 6 months.(1) Mental illness is also a big issue causing homelessness. Approximately 22% of single white male homeless people are suffering from a severe mental illness.(1) The main reason is because Millions of mental patients were dis-institutionalized in the 50's and 60's, and affordable housing wasn't an issue until the 80's, when many of them were reaching 50 and couldn't work and afford housing. Luckily, only 5-7% of the mentally ill have to be institutionalized(5), and most of them can find community programs and housing to help their conditions. Other factors can be domestic violence. Many women have to choose between abusive relationships or homelessness, and nearly 25% of single homeless women said they became homeless because of an abusive relationship in their previous place of residence.(1) Health care afford ability is a minor reason for homelessness, but a reason none-the-less. More than half of people living in poverty or homelessness had no health care of any kind.(1) The reason for homelessness is an easy question to answer, how many homeless there are in the United States is a harder one.

Although it is very hard to estimate the number of homeless people in the US, we can get very close using massive amounts of studies and the census so we can at least get a good idea so we can start helping them. 52% of requests for emergency shelter for families were denied in the last year, a 22% increase from least year.(2) Homeless families in rural areas have very little or nothing to fall back on if they are faced with homelessness. They are often forced to live with friends or relatives to avoid homelessness. This is often considered homelessness and counted in studies. However, nearly half of the families requiring emergency shelter aren't even as lucky as to have a friend or relative to live with.(3) The national estimate for homelessness in the United States as of 2001, was 3.5 Million people, 1.5 million of them being children.(1) That is a huge number to deal with, and there is a bit of questioning wondering where all of these people are in the United States

Many may think that homelessness is a strictly urban issue, but in reality the population between urban homelessness and rural homelessness is split about 50/50.There are far fewer shelters in rural areas; so people experiencing homelessness are less likely to live on the street or in a shelter, and more likely to live in a car or camper, or with relatives in overcrowded or poor housing. Restricting definitions of homelessness to include only those who are literally homeless, that is, on the streets or in shelters - does not fit well with the rural reality, and also may exclude many rural communities from accessing federal money to address homelessness.(1) Studies comparing urban and rural homeless populations have shown that homeless people in rural areas are more likely to be white, female, married, currently working, homeless for the first time, and homeless for a shorter period of time.(3) Other research says that families, single mothers, and



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