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Homelessness in the USA

Imagine you wake up homeless.

What would you do and where would you go?

You’d need to find food and shelter in the first place, which definitely isn’t easy.

For people who’ve been homeless for a while, though, a constant struggle for food and a safe place to sleep is how their every day looks like. And there are other struggles too. Below are some statistics and facts for you to get a better idea of what life is for the homeless.

What Is the Current State of Homelessness in the US?

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development is a government agency that supports homeownership and community development. One of its main goals is reducing homelessness, which is why they constantly monitor the current situation and create programs to improve it. In 2017, their annual report showed the following statistics on homelessness:

  • On a single night in 2017, 550,996 people were homeless (which is 14.9% less than the estimates in 2007).
  • 65.5% of them were staying at special shelters for homeless, while the rest (34.5%) were unsheltered.
  • 33.5% of all homeless people were families with children.
  • 9.1% of the homeless were veterans.
  • 7% of the total homeless population were unaccompanied young people (under 25).
  • States with the highest rate of homelessness in 2017 were California (24.1%) and New York (16.4%), while 26 of all states had less than 1% of all homeless population.
  • Overall, in 2017, there were 1,416,908 people registered in homeless shelters (which is 10.8% less than the estimates in 2007).
  • 44.4% of those sheltered homeless adults had a disability.
  • 22.5% of all people who experienced sheltered homelessness in one point or another during 2017 were children under 18.
  • Homeless people stayed at a shelter for about 27 nights on average.

Source: https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/homeless-children-and-youth

Just think of it:

About half a million people are out there every night with no place to call a home!

Such numbers are intimidating, but they do show that the problem of homelessness is improving, thankfully, compared to previous years.

Why Do People Become Homeless?

The factors below are listed by how much they contribute to the problem.

Lack of Affordable Housing

Rents in the US are very high and keep rising quite fast. Especially in larger cities. Research shows that 26% of renters pay half of their salary for their rental homes, which puts them at a very high risk of becoming homeless somewhere soon in the future. Such low-income households often have only one family member employed full-time.

Why so, you might ask?

Well, the possible reasons include a lack of education, bad work history, disability or health issues, a criminal record, etc. You should agree that it’s hard to do something about any of these reasons. This makes it clear that such families are just an incident away from moving out to the streets.

Health Issues and Disability

Health conditions, either physical or mental, are a number two factor leading to homelessness. And homelessness in turn often leads to serious health conditions. It’s a vicious circle that is very hard to break.

In 2006, the National Alliance to End Homelessness provided the percentage of HIV-positive people among the homeless population. It was 3.4% as compared to 0.4% among the general population.”

It’s obvious that major incidents, diseases, and disabilities requiring special care and expensive treatment might leave people with debts, especially if their income is below average. While in some cases this homelessness is a temporary condition, it can become a chronic issue in others, meaning a lot of time will pass before a person manages to get out of this situation (if it ever happens at all).

Mental health issues can lead to homelessness too. Schizophrenia and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are the most common conditions. Interestingly enough, the latter might also be caused by homelessness itself.

Addictions

Homeless people are often seen as all alcoholics and junkies. The truth is substanceabuse happens to be among the most common causes of homelessness, but it’s an illness and a great challenge for people, so it requires special treatment and support rather than condemnation.

Two in three homeless people report alcohol and other drugs as one of the major reasons for becoming homeless in the first place, according to research. Obviously, poor living conditions don’t help but only make it worse, leading to drug overdose deaths, alcohol poisoning, as well as overall high mortality rates due to different health conditions caused by addictions (e.g. cancer or heart disease).

As of 2015, 70% of homeless veterans reported having substance use problems.”

Source: https://www.inspiremalibu.com/blog/drug-addiction/public-health-crisis-of-addiction-surgeon-general/

Lack of Support

When major incidents happen, most of us can always seek help withinour family and friends circle or even address our local communities. But some people can’t afford that. They might have lost contacts with any close people or all their family members might have died. Whatever the case, this leaves people alone with their challenges.

“Kids are at a rather high risk of becoming homeless after they age out of foster care. One study has shown that more than a third of former foster youth have at least one incident of homelessness by the time they turn 26.”

Domestic Violence and Physical Abuse

The NISVS state report shows that more than 10 million Americans, both men and women, experience different forms of domestic violence and physical abuse every year. It equals to about 20 people per minute! Many of them find themselves on the streets, trying to escape that. The most recent statistics show that more than 15% of the homeless are victims of domestic violence.

It might be really hard to provide for yourself (and your family), as well as find a new place to live, after leaving the abusive environment. The lack of affordable housing and the lack of a support network are only a few factors contributing to this situation.

Illegal Past

For people who are fresh out of jail, it is very hard to find a job, even if they are willing to change their lives and make real efforts for that. For many of them, it’s also difficult (sometimes, even impossible) to reunite with their family. It’s not surprising then that each year about 50,000 people returning from incarceration enter shelters.

And here’s the worst thing:

It’s funny and sad at the same time how homelessness is becoming criminalized around the country.

There are laws that prohibit sleeping, begging, camping, loitering in public places, as well as sleeping in vehicles. Some cities even prohibit sharing food with the homeless! So, it’s so easy for people with a criminal record to get back to prison if they have nowhere to go after exiting the system.

LGBTQ Harassment and Discrimination

LGBTQ community members often fall victims to harassment, domestic violence, and different forms of discrimination, which makes it really hard for them to live a normal life. According to this survey conducted by the Williams Institute, the most common reasons young members of the LGBT community become homeless are:

  1. they are forced to leave home (i.e. kicked out by parents);
  2. they run away themselves after being rejected by their family or because of some form of abuse at home.

The same research reveals that as many as 30% of homeless youth who take part in housing programs identify as LGBT.

The life of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people gets even more complicated because of the lack of LGBT-friendly homeless shelters. According to this brief, LGBT community members are very likely to be either not allowed to enter shelters or allowed but treated with indignity and violence there.

Natural Disasters

Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tsunami, and other natural disasters might cause immense destruction. They ruin houses, so homeowners and their families are left homeless, sometimes with large mortgage loans yet to pay. They ruin industrial buildings and offices, leaving people jobless. They are responsible for the increase in rents, so it becomes harder for victims to afford new housing.

Here’s a recent example:

After Hurricane Harvey, which made two major landfalls in Texas and one in Louisiana in August 2017, the number of homeless people in Houston, Texas has increased by 13% compared to the previous year. Almost 20% of all homeless in this city and its surrounding areas have reported the hurricane was to blame for their homelessness. Harvey has made it to the list of the costliest natural disasters in the US, along with Hurricane Katrina of 2015, which was responsible for 60% of homelessness that year.

“There’s a group of people, consisting mostly of youth, for whom homelessness is a personal choice that supports their ideology of staying out of the system. It’s hard to provide any numbers as to how small or large this group is because these people usually refuse to interact with any governmental agencies offering assistance.“

Homelessness and Sleep

Whether it’s on the street, in a car, in an abandoned building, on a bench, at a homeless shelter, or in any other places where homeless people can sleep, they will hardly manage to get what we are used to calling “quality sleep”.

Here’s the deal:Homelessness and Sleep

A small study in Boston revealed that the average duration of sleep among homeless is 6.28 hours per night, while the lowest reported was 3.5 hours.

But it’s not only that they get insufficient amounts sleep. It’s also that the sleep they get is not good.

As you might know, the best environment for sleep is quiet, dark, and somewhat cold. It’s almost impossible to find or create such an environment when homeless. Noise from streets, sunlight or streetlight, unsanitary conditions, bad weather, as well as the need to always be alert are the main factors that leave people without proper sleep.

Sleeping in a shelter is not always a real alternative. There are fewer beds in shelters than there are homeless people, and it actually seems there will never be enough to accommodate everyone in need. In many facilities, a person is allowed to stay only overnight and will be forced to leave early in the morning. Besides, shelters are often overcrowded and loud and, despite the idea of being safe in the first place, many are not safe at all.

Interestingly enough, a lot of homeless shelters have a number of requirements for a person to be accepted. They include:

  • taking a drug test and being sober;
  • having a job;
  • no pets;
  • no LGBT (especially T).

Even when finally housed, some homeless people don’t feel secure and simply can’t relax to get a good night’s sleep. For those who have had no permanent housing for a long time, a normal bed might seem uncomfortable and the overall setting might be unusually quiet.

With all of that being said, it’s clear that sleep deprivation with all of its consequences is a common issue for homeless people. Many of them start taking such drugs as methamphetamine to stay awake at night and alcohol or other drugs with a sedative effect to quickly fall asleep in the morning. This may be linked to the fear of being robbed, killed, or assaulted at night or to a job with night shifts.

“Sleep deprivation leaves people unfocused and exhausted, which makes it quite hard to find a way to earn money or get some food. And without food and money to spend on necessities, it gets almost impossible to ever get out of homelessness.”

Accommodation Directory for Homeless: The Largest Shelters by State

Although the number of homeless shelters around the country is not enough to accommodate each and every homeless person, there still are lots of organizations and facilities in every state. We have compiled the largest ones below, with the basic information about each shelter.

Alabama

Salvation Army Montgomery

  • for men, women, and families
  • food and clothing provided
  • furniture vouchers
  • hygiene kits
  • educational and support programs for kids and women
  • rent pay assistance for employed
  • free 14-day stay

900 Maxwell Boulevard
Montgomery, AL 36104
(334) 269-2018

Alaska

Glory Hole

  • serves everyone over 18 y.o. and accompanied minors
  • food, phone, clothing, laundry, and shower provided
  • support programs and referrals
  • survival kits available
  • counseling and mental health services
  • free first night, $10 for every consequent night or free for helping with facility chores

247 S Franklin Street
Juneau, AK 99801
(907) 586-4159

Arizona

Phoenix Rescue Mission

  • emergency overnight men’s shelter
  • community kitchen for everyone
  • clothing and hygiene items provided
  • educational assistance and job referrals
  • counseling services
  • spiritual care and addiction recovery services

1801 S 35th Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85009
(602) 233-3000

Arkansas

Our House

  • for men, women, and children
  • food, clothing, and supplies provided
  • mental health and medical referrals
  • transition programs
  • prison re-entry programs for women
  • case management
  • job skill training
  • on-site childcare facility
  • up to two-year stay allowed

302 E Roosevelt Road
Little Rock, AR 72206
(501) 374-7383

California

Union Gospel Mission

  • men’s shelter
  • on-site computer room, media center, and much more available to everyone
  • clothing, haircuts, shower, and laundry provided
  • vocational programs and referrals
  • rehab programs for men

400 Bannon Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 447-3268

Colorado

Catholic Samaritan House

  • for men, women, and families
  • clothing and food provided
  • medical care
  • employment assistance
  • case management
  • support programs for teens and families

2301 Lawrence Street
Denver, CO 80205
(303) 294-0241

Connecticut

South Park Inn

  • for single adults and families with children 1+
  • meals and hygiene items provided
  • health services
  • case management
  • substance abuse groups

75 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 724-0071

Delaware

The Shepherd Place

  • for women and families
  • up to 30 days stay allowed
  • food, clothing, household supplies provided
  • case management
  • counseling and job assistance

1362 S. Governors Avenue
Dover, DE 19904
(302) 678-1909

Florida

The Kearney Center

  • emergency shelter for adult men and women
  • food, laundry, storage, and shower provided
  • phone and computer access
  • health services
  • case management

2650 Municipal Way
Tallahassee, FL 32304
(850) 792-9000

Georgia

Gateway Center

  • for men, women, and families
  • meals, shower, storage, clothing closet, phone access, laundry provided
  • health services
  • on-site chapel
  • career help and referrals

275 Pryor Street, SW
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 215-6600

Hawaii

The Institute for Human Services

  • for men, women, and families
  • food, mail service, lockers, showers, and laundry provided
  • case management
  • job counseling
  • medical services

546 Ka’aahi Street
Honolulu, HI 96817
(808) 447-2800

Idaho

River of Life

  • men’s shelter
  • food and clothing provided
  • mental health services
  • educational help and job referrals
  • addiction recovery programs

575 S. 13th Street
Boise, ID 83702
(208) 389-9840

Illinois

Contact Ministries

  • for women with children
  • laundry, clothing, food, personal care items, and phone access provided
  • transportation services
  • job assistance and skill training
  • counseling and case management

1100 East Adams Street
Springfield, IL 62703
(217) 753-3939

Indiana

Wheeler Mission Ministries

  • emergency shelter for men and women
  • shower, food, and clothing provided
  • chapel services
  • addiction recovery programs
  • health services
  • case management
  • residential programs

205 East New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
(317) 635-3575

Iowa

Central Iowa Shelter & Services

  • for men and women
  • clothing closet, meals, shower, and laundry provided
  • medical help
  • employment assistance
  • case management and referrals to social services

1420 Mulberry Street
Des Moines, IA 1420
(515) 284-5719

Kansas

Topeka Rescue Mission

  • for single men and women, as well as families
  • food and clothing provided
  • skill training and career assistance
  • chapel service
  • mental and physical health help
  • housing assistance

600 N. Kansas Avenue
Topeka, KS 66608
(785) 354-1744

Kentucky

Access Shelter

  • men’s shelter
  • meals, clothing, and toiletries provided
  • educational assistance
  • counseling and case management

311 West Second Street
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 223-5179

Louisiana

Bishop Ott Shelter and Day Center

  • for men, women, and families
  • food, clothing, laundry, and shower provided
  • life and career skills training
  • substance abuse help
  • dental services
  • case management

1623 Convention Street
Baton Rouge, LA 70802
(225) 383-7343

Maine

Bread of Life Ministries Shelter

  • serves men, women, and families
  • clothing, food, shower, laundry, and storage provided
  • case management
  • employment help
  • permanent housing

155 Hospital Street
Augusta, ME 04330
(207) 626-3479

Maryland

Light House Shelter

  • for men, women, and families
  • food, shower, laundry, toiletries, clothing, and personal care items provided
  • financial help
  • medical help
  • life skills and job training
  • substance abuse support groups
  • case management

206 West Street
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 263-1835

Massachusetts

Southampton Street Shelter

  • men’s shelter
  • clothing, laundry, shower, and food provided
  • medical services
  • substance abuse help
  • case management

112 Southampton Street
Boston, MA 02118
(617) 534-6100

Michigan

City Rescue Mission of Lansing

  • for women and children
  • shower, laundry, toiletries, food, and clothing provided
  • case management
  • counseling and educational assistance

2216 S Cedar Street
Lansing, MI 48910
(517) 485-0145

Minnesota

Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities

  • for men, women, and families
  • meals provided
  • case management
  • mental health care and dental care
  • faith-based recovery programs for men and women

435 East University Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55101
(612) 292-1721

Mississippi

Salvation Army Center of Hope

  • for men and women
  • laundry, shower, meals, and clothing provided
  • job training and employment help
  • case management

110 Presto Lane
Jackson, MS 39206
(601) 982-1828

Missouri

Salvation Army Center of Hope

  • for single adults and families
  • clothing, food, shower, laundry, and toiletries provided
  • case management
  • life and job skill training
  • referrals

907 Jefferson Street
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 635-1975

Montana

The Friendship Center

  • for domestic violence victims (only women and children)
  • food and clothing provided
  • support programs
  • case management
  • legal counseling

1503 Gallatin Avenue
Helena, MT 59601
(406) 442-6800

Nebraska

People’s City Mission

  • for men, women, and families
  • laundry, shower, meals, personal hygiene items, clothing, and mail services provided
  • chapel services
  • case management
  • life skills classes
  • educational and employment assistance
  • healthcare services

110 Q Street
Lincoln, NE 68501
(402) 475-1303

Nevada

Friends In Service Helping

  • for single adults and families
  • clothing, food, hygiene items, and on-site amenities provided
  • medical help
  • skill training
  • referrals

138 East Long Street
Carson City, NV 89706
(775) 882-3474

New Hampshire

McKenna House

  • for everyone over 18 y.o.
  • food, clothing, and shower provided
  • case management
  • recovery programs
  • legal advocacy

100 S Fruit Street
Concord, NH 03301
(603) 228-3505

New Jersey

Rescue Mission of Trenton

  • serves single men and women
  • food, clothing, on-site amenities, and hygiene necessities provided
  • medical help and referrals
  • career assistance
  • addiction recovery programs

98 Carroll Street
Trenton, NJ 08609
(609) 695-1436

New Mexico

Interfaith Community Shelter

  • for women and children all year round, for men during winter months only
  • shower, toiletries, clothing, and food provided
  • haircut and trim available
  • medical and mental health and referrals
  • substance support groups
  • employment assistance

2801 Cerrillos Road
Santa Fe, NM 87505
(505) 795-7494

New York

Capital City Rescue Mission

  • emergency shelter for men, short-term shelter program for women
  • food and clothing provided
  • addiction recovery programs
  • primary medical help
  • chapel services
  • educational and transitional living programs

259 South Pearl Street
Albany, NY 12202
(518) 462-0459

North Carolina

South Wilmington Street Shelter

  • men’s shelter
  • meals provided
  • case management
  • mental health care
  • skill training
  • addiction recovery programs

1420 S Wilmington Street
Raleigh, NC 27603
(919) 857-9428

North Dakota

Ruth Meiers Hospitality House

  • men’s shelter
  • food, bathing facilities, and clothing provided
  • job training and referrals
  • case management
  • legal advocacy
  • $14 per week

1800 E Broadway Ave
Bismarck, ND 58501
(701) 222-2108

Ohio

YMCA Van Buren Center

  • for men, women, and families
  • foo and on-site amenities provided
  • substance abuse treatment
  • health services
  • counseling and case management

595 Van Buren Drive
Columbus, OH 43223
(614) 715-2515

Oklahoma

City Rescue Mission

  • for men, women, and families
  • clothing, food, bathing facilities, and hygiene items provided
  • medical assistance
  • counseling and job help
  • case management

800 W California Ave
Oklahoma City, OK 73106
(405) 232-2709

Oregon

Union Gospel Mission of Salem

  • for men, women, and families
  • clothing, food, personal care items, and shower provided
  • employment assistance
  • counseling and case management

345 Commercial Street NE
Salem, OR 97301
(503) 362-3983

Pennsylvania

Bethesda Mission Men’s Shelter

  • men’s shelter
  • meals and clothing provided
  • physical and mental health care
  • recovery programs and support groups
  • employment help and referrals

611 Reilly Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102
(717) 257-4440

Rhode Island

Providence Rescue Mission

  • for single men and women
  • shower facilities and meals provided
  • dental services
  • career training
  • substance abuse recovery programs

627 Cranston Street
Providence, RI 02907
(401) 274-8861

South Carolina

Transitions Homeless Recovery Center

  • for men and women
  • shower, laundry, food, clothing, and computer access provided
  • medical care and mental health services
  • career assistance and life skills training
  • drug and alcohol abuse treatment

2025 Main Street
Columbia, SC 29201
(803) 708-4861

South Dakota

Missouri Shores Domestic Violence Center

  • for victims of domestic violence
  • food and laundry provided
  • support groups for women and children
  • legal assistance

398 S Pierre Street
Pierre, SD 57501
(605) 224-0256

Tennessee

Room at the Inn

  • day shelter and emergency winter shelter
  • food, transportation, supplies, shower, and laundry provided
  • mail services and internet access
  • spiritual programs
  • life and job skills training
  • recovery programs

705 Drexel Street
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 251-9791

Texas

Austin Resource Center for the Homeless

  • for men and women
  • meals, shower, and clothing provided
  • healthcare clinic
  • transitional housing programs
  • case management

500 E. 7th Street
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 305-4100

Utah

The Road Home

  • for men and women
  • shower, toiletries, food, and clothing provided
  • mental health treatment
  • case management
  • career help

210 Rio Grande Street
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
(801) 359-4142

Vermont

Good Samaritan Haven

  • for men and women
  • personal care items, food, and clothing provided
  • case management
  • housing programs

105 North Seminary Street
Barre, VT 05641
(802) 479-2294

Virginia

CARITAS

  • for single adults and families
  • meals and bathing facilities provided
  • case management
  • substance use disorder treatment
  • wellness programs

1532 High Street
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 358-0964

Washington

Interfaith Works Overnight Shelter

  • for adult men and women
  • clothing, meals, storage, bathing amenities, mail, and phone access provided
  • pet-friendly
  • medical help and referrals

701 Franklin Street
Olympia, WA 98501
(360) 918-8424

West Virginia

Union Mission Crossroads

  • men’s shelter
  • meals, clothing, toiletries, and shower provided
  • chapel services
  • employment help

700 South Park Road
Charleston, WV 25321
(304) 925-0366

Wisconsin

Salvation Army Single Women’s Shelter

  • for single women
  • shower, laundry, food, and clothing provided
  • case management
  • skill training workshops

630 East Washington Avenue
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 250-2226

Wyoming

Comea House

  • for men, women, and families
  • food, clothing, bathing, and toiletries provided
  • employment help programs
  • case management

1504 Stinson Ave
Cheyenne, WY 82001
(307) 632-3174

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