Many times, we see homeless people when we are walking or driving around town. You might think as you watch them, it could never happen to you. You think this because you have a house and a family, a job. You don’t drink or use drugs, so you will never be so irresponsible as to become homeless. Or maybe you think the homeless sitting out on the street corners waiting for help from any passer by are lazy and could be looking for a job instead of panhandling.
These are all misconceptions of homelessness and part of the reason more is not being done to fix the problem is because so many of us feel we have nothing to do with the problem. We cannot relate.
It is not as hard as one would think to become homeless. Homelessness can happen to almost anyone and is not a statement of character or work ethic or even value as a human being, of any person.
There is a myriad of reasons for homelessness. These 10 might surprise you and make you think twice about the way you look at the homeless next time you drive by them.
Divorce – In the event of a divorce, one of the parties may become homeless through no fault of their own, having to move out of the shared home with nowhere to go.
Medical Bills – In the case of a serious accident or lengthy illness, mounting medical bills may drain resources and put the individual or family into poverty increasing their risk for homelessness
Lack of Housing Options – High rent costs and lack of availability make homelessness a real possibility. Moving out of one rental without another lined up, or being evicted for any number of reasons with nowhere to go is a sure way to end up homeless
Mental Illness – Mental illness does not discriminate among rich or poor, race or age. Those currently mentally ill risk behaviors and actions that may threaten their stability and cause loss of income and housing. Further, mental illness may strike at any time, threatening the all that a person worked for.
Addiction – A common misconception that all homeless people are addicts or drunks, addiction is a very real reason they become homeless. Looking for their next drink or fix, they use resources for such, instead of paying bills. Sometimes they have exhausted all other options of treatment of family and friends helping out.
Job Loss – No matter how secure one feels in their job, no matter how good they are at it and responsible with their job requirements, the reality is the bottom could fall out at any time in almost any industry, resulting in layoffs. If no preparations, such as savings or backup plan are made and another job is not immediately found, the downward spiral can be quick to homelessness.
Poverty – Simply living at or below the poverty line typically means living paycheck to paycheck. All it takes is an unexpected auto repair; an illness causing missed work or extra doctor bills to divert money used for housing and end up in eviction or foreclosure.
Natural Disaster or Fire – many times homeowners do not realize their homeowners insurance may not cover them in the event of natural disaster, such as a hurricane or tornado, without an extra rider and can end up homeless in the blink of an eye.
Roommates not paying their part – Sharing housing with roommates requires trust. If your roommate does not come through with their part of the money, for whatever reason, then unless you can continuously make up the difference, you risk eviction the same as they do.
Domestic Violence – Domestic violence can force the victim to flee to shelters or the streets, often without anything but the clothes on their back. The perpetrator may go to jail and when they are released not be able to go back to the house.
As much as we would like to think we are not like any of the homeless people we see, or that it could never happen to us, any of the reasons above, could happen to anyone really. You may not be part of the homeless problem today but you could be tomorrow. Think about it.