7 Major Causes of Homelessness

Imagine having an unexpected curveball thrown at you full force. Most of the time, that’s exactly what causes homelessness – a drastic change in your life that temporarily throws you off track.

Sometimes the cause of homelessness can’t even be pinned down to one particular cause, but rather a mix of circumstances in someone’s life that have steered them off of the right path.

There’s a wide range of reasons why someone might be experiencing homelessness, but here are 7 causes of homelessness we see most often:


  1. Lack of Trustworthy Relationships – This is one of the most common causes of homelessness we see. We all want to be close to family, have someone to call a friend or a mentor, someone that we can go to when times get tough, or when we simply need a little guidance to put us back on the right path. But a lack of that relationship in our lives causes a big hole. Forming healthy, trustworthy relationships could make the difference between having somewhere to temporarily stay with while getting back on your feet and finding yourself left facing homelessness.
  2. Illness and Disability – Illnesses and disabilities do not occur by choice, and the repercussions of enduring such traumatic circumstances too often cause homelessness. Chronic illness and disability prevent someone from holding a job, and without a job, you have no means of steady income. Without a steady income, how are you able to afford somewhere to call home? How are you able to afford something to eat? Then there’s those medical bills you have accrued. You never know when you are going to fall ill or get into a life-changing accident, and the consequences of something you never asked for are enough to drastically change your life.
  3. AbuseMore than 90% of women experiencing homelessness attest to some form of physical or sexual abuse during their lifetime. The rate of domestic abuse survivors, both men and women, left experiencing homelessness happens far too often. This leaves the survivors with nowhere to turn when they escape their abusers, forcing them to call the streets their home.
  4. Working, but in Poverty – Some people experiencing homelessness may have a job, but it might be low paying, leaving them unable to afford things they need like housing and food. Evictions and foreclosures can happen in an instant, and even with steady job, many are left without a home and nowhere to go. This is more common than you may think.
  5. Unemployment –  With layoffs and workplace discrimination still actively existing in today’s society, not everyone is lucky enough to find a secure place in the workforce. The contingent nature of any job is enough to speak for itself. Putting yourself in the shoes of others can be difficult, but the truth is that anyone can be faced with unforeseen workplace misfortunes. This sudden loss of income can force someone to stop paying their rent, which can then turn into eviction and homelessness.
  6. Lack of Affordable Housing – There’s a clear connection between the lack of affordable places to live, and the number of people living on the streets. More specifically, in cities and metropolitan areas. While Atlanta is a beautiful place to live, it’s a growing city, and with growth comes an increase in housing prices. The average one bedroom apartment in the city is about $1,000 per month. Now imagine trying to find a place to live when minimum wage is only $7.25 an hour. No one should be left without a home.
  7. Personal Hardship – Many times homelessness is the result of tragedy or personal hardship – again, circumstances that are out of your control. Living through a big life-changing event, whether it be natural disaster, toxic relationship, or divorce, requires additional support and guidance. Their financial status could change without having a partner to help split expenses, or their insurance may not cover the damage caused by a hurricane. The circumstances these people face could easily be yours, your families, or close friends in the blink of an eye.

Homelessness is a temporary circumstance, not a permanent condition.

It can happen to anyone and it can happen in an instant. You never know what life may bring, but at the root of it all is trustworthy relationships and a place to turn. At Atlanta Mission, it’s about life transformation. We meet each person where they are, in their unique circumstances. Looking for the root cause of their homelessness allows us to help provide customized services to overcome it. Learn how you can help those experiencing homelessness here.

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