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By Johannes Helmold
When we see homeless people around our cities or towns, we may not think about how they got into their circumstance. We mostly pass them by and try our best to ignore them. However, sometimes we may become curious about how people land up in this situation. There are over 100 million individuals who are homeless at this time, according to the United Nations (Homeless World Cup). So, understanding the reasons behind homelessness is imperative.
Poverty is perhaps the main cause of homelessness (The Salvation Army). Being born or brought into poverty through circumstances beyond one’s control is an easy route to being without a home. With half of the world’s population living on $2.50 a day, it is clear that becoming homeless is not that difficult (DoSomething.org).
Unemployment is another main cause of homelessness. With the world unemployment rate at 7.9% in 2017, it is not surprising that many people find it hard to sustain a living space (www.indexmundi.com).
The lack of affordable housing through gentrification and fastly growing local economies is another qualm. Even people with one or two jobs cannot afford proper housing in places like New York City and Seattle. The global housing crisis is only getting worse by year, and this will lead to more and more people becoming homeless (CityLab).
Sadly, about 450 million individuals worldwide have mental health issues, and often lack adequate care from government agencies. And strangely, many people who have an opportunity to use treatment services do not use these tools (World Health Organization). This can lead to unemployment and in turn, a lack of funds to pay for housing.
Drug and alcohol abuse is another common source of homelessness. According to the World Health Organization, “At least 15.3 million persons have drug use disorders” (“Facts and Figures”). People who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol often cannot have a steady job, and this causes them to eventually live on the streets. Their family members are often dismissive of them and refuse to care for them due to their condition.
With another form of abuse, gambling, homelessness can become possible. With about 1.6 billion people gambling each year, it is clear there is an addiction to this activity, despite its almost impossible odds of winning (Lancelot, Marilyn). Having enough money is the key factor in not becoming homeless, and those with a gambling addiction can easily lose all their funds, including their savings (The Salvation Army).
In addition, tumultuous family environments can readily be a cause of homelessness. With domestic violence and sexual misconduct at home, many young people choose to leave their residences to live on the streets. CNN reported that, “Thirty-five percent of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence, according to the United Nations” (“Domestic (Intimate Partner) Violence Fast Facts”). And, these are just the statistics about women without consideration of the physical and sexual violence done against boys and men.
As homelessness continues to grow worldwide, it becomes more and more important to comprehend why it is happening. Due to poverty, unemployment, unaffordable housing, poor physical and mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, and bad family environments, homelessness is rampant. Increasing financial and social services for those on the brink of homelessness worldwide should be a solution, but it is easier said than done.
“Global Homelessness Statistics.” Homeless World Cup, Homeless World Cup, 9 Jan. 2018, homelessworldcup.org/homelessness-statistics/.
Salvation Army. “Why Are People Homeless?” The Salvation Army, www.salvationarmy.org.au/en/Who-We-Are/our-work/Homelessness/Why-are-people-homeless/.
“11 Facts About Global Poverty.” DoSomething.org | Volunteer for Social Change, www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-global-poverty.
“World Unemployment Rate.” Demographics, www.indexmundi.com/world/unemployment_rate.html.
Schneider, Benjamin, et al. “It’s Time to Acknowledge That the Housing Crisis Is Global.” CityLab, 11 Apr. 2018, www.citylab.com/equity/2018/04/the-global-housing-crisis/557639/.
“Mental Disorders Affect One in Four People.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 29 July 2013, www.who.int/whr/2001/media_centre/press_release/en/.
“Facts and Figures.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, 12 May 2014, www.who.int/substance_abuse/facts/en/.
Lancelot, Marilyn. “Marilyn Lancelot.” Addiction Blog Gambling RSS, Addiction Blog, gambling.addictionblog.org/how-many-people-gamble/.
“Domestic (Intimate Partner) Violence Fast Facts.” CNN, Cable News Network, 1 June 2018, edition.cnn.com/2013/12/06/us/domestic-intimate-partner-violence-fast-facts/index.html.
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