What causes homelessness?

By Harry Shelton

October 23, 2020

This problem is everywhere, from the developing world to right in the cities that are called the best on Earth. People go without shelter or live in homeless shelters every day, and despite organizations and individuals donating supplies, time, money, and even building new houses to combat this epidemic, it still exists.

Why? What is the cause that people can eliminate to end homelessness once and for all? Well, it isn’t that simple as homelessness has many causes that vary across situations, and those causes are hard but not impossible to destroy.


Problems with the world structure

“One of the problems of homelessness is structural problems. These include a lack of income, economic shifts, and poverty, all of which contribute to how expensive housing is. With some families spending around 30-50% of their income on housing, they are often one illness or accident away from losing their homes.

In addition, changes in the job market can lead to people getting laid off from jobs that provide the income that they need, and discrimination is often the cause of such firings, as well as a lack of employment opportunities to recover that lost income.” says Alex Dillard, head of research & development at financial research firm Sambla.

Systems failures

These are when the systems that are designed to prevent homelessness fail, and it can happen after a divorce when child welfare and support is not paid, when people are discharged from the hospital without proper planning of how to recoup their lost wages, or when problems such as addiction, mental health or injuries are not treated correctly.

When the system screws up, it can be hard for those affected to recover, leading to homelessness and often bitterness at the thing that failed them, which often causes more problems than it solves. It can often be hard for people to get back on their feet and put their trust in the systems again.

Individual problems

These problems are often the hardest and saddest to deal with and can involve everything from job loss, damage to the house by fire or weather, mental health problems that make it hard to hold a job, divorce or abuse, and domestic violence.


Often times, people have to make the impossible choice to either be homeless or suffer abuse, and without the correct people to help them out of that situation, they choose getting away from their abuser.

Ways to help

Unless we as a nation and world can tackle all of these issues, and ensure that those who suffer them get the help, care, and support that they need homelessness will keep being a problem, especially among immigrants and refugees, along with the poverty-stricken of the world.

There is no magic bullet or one fix all solution to end homelessness, and it will take both a lot of talk and action to ensure that it starts to change. It takes time, and until those conversations and actions can be had all that people can do is give their time and money to help as many as they can.

About Harry Shelton