Think Being a Homeless Adult is Tough – Here is What it Does to the Kids

Homeless Adult

When you think of starving, homeless kids, poorly dressed for the weather and living in squalor, do you think of the commercials asking for aid for the children of third world countries, believing that there is nothing so terrible happening in our own country that equals this sad plight?

It’s hard to believe there are children living here whose situation is as dire as those we see on TV, yet it is estimated that nearly 1 in 45, maybe as high as 1 in 30, children are homeless. While many people do become homeless through lack of planning and sudden change in circumstances such as job loss, children almost always are truly homeless through no fault of their own and suffer greatly for it.

There is, of course, a percentage of these kids who ran away from home or are otherwise unaccompanied, but they are still children and the cause is often still beyond anything they can control, such as mental illness or violence in the home.

Many times families with kids are more able to find room in the shelters, but that doesn’t always work out. Children can experience reprieve from the hunger and exposure during school hours, yet still suffer greatly for being homeless.

  • They are sick more often with ear infections and tummy aches.
  • They are more likely to be exposed to violence at a very young age.
  • They are more likely to suffer emotional and behavioral problems
  • They are more likely to have asthma
  • They are more likely to suffer nutritional deficiencies and go hungry
  • They are more likely to have poor attendance and change schools a lot
  • They are more likely to not attend school, the only place they are truly accounted for.
  • They are more likely to have delayed development
  • They are more likely to suffer depression and anxiety

As they grow older and remain homeless, they are more likely to be exposed to risky sexual behavior and have a higher chance of picking up STDs and being exposed to addictive substances.

These are just some of the effects homeless children experience. All children deserve a roof over their head and food to eat and security of home and family while they grow up. How they are affected by the lack of these things is detrimental to their well being.

The plight of children in third world countries is sad and real, but the plight of homeless children here in this country is just as real and even sadder in that so many choose to ignore it.

Statistically Speaking: The Bottom Line on Poverty

Blaine Harden

The poverty line, or poverty threshold, is the minimum amount of money deemed necessary to meet the basic needs of an individual or family and is adjusted yearly to reflect higher cost of living. It typically is half of what a family in the United States actually needs to provide for itself.

In recent years the threshold has not been adjusted as high as the rise in the cost of living and one result is more people living in a state of financial crisis that could theoretically push them over the edge to homelessness.

Once an individual or family falls at or below the threshold, they are considered living in poverty and then qualify for government programs designed to offset poverty. Economists suggest without these programs in place, the poverty level, which hovers around 15% (after assistance) would be nearly double that.

Poverty is also the worry of living paycheck to paycheck, wondering if there will be enough to cover the bills, and if not what will be sacrificed to make ends meet. The constant fear of something big happening, like the car breaking down, or sickness or injury that will have bills piling up.

According to either definition, there are approximately 92 million people currently living in poverty in the United States. Over half of the population will know poverty during their lifetime. Poverty rates have increased at twice the rate of US population and poverty among the elderly has increased by 20%

The US is the 17th country, of 19, with major income disparity and poverty and also has the highest poverty rate of any country in the developed world.

In 2014, the number of people receiving federal government assistance in the form of the 3 major programs, TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), Supplemental Security Income and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (food stamps) hit an all-time high of 23.1% and in the year 2013, there were actually more people receiving welfare than there were full-time workers.

The numbers are disheartening for solving the problem of poverty in America. Yet we look at what is spent in Foreign Aid vs. what is spent on federal aid to our nation and wonder why our citizens receive less help from the federal government. Case in point, the city of Detroit receives less federal aid from the US Government than 32 other foreign countries.

Something needs to change in big ways to change these numbers. That’s the bottom line really.

10 Reasons for Homelessness- It Could Happen to Anyone

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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.