Are individuals suffering from homelessness considered missing? The relationship between the idea of being homeless and missing is quite complex. An individual experiencing homelessness may be an unreported missing person. On the other hand, a person suffering from homelessness may go missing for an unknown reason. Both scenarios create questions as to how to differentiate the different possible circumstances leading to underreporting.
What often leads to underreporting is the over-reporting of people who run away. There are times when a person may be suffering from mental health issues or difficulties with family relationships that cause them to leave home. Leaving home abruptly or running away with nowhere to go can ultimately lead to homelessness. Frequently, family and friends then tend to report missing people who aren’t technically “missing,” rather, they are choosing to leave. Of course, it differentiates from youth runaways, but adults have personal autonomy.
Keeping track of the population of people experiencing homelessness has many difficulties. There are hundreds of thousands of individuals that do not have a proper home, and they are spread throughout the nation. Whether it be campsites, couch surfing, or shelters; there are so many places to reside that it makes the process of keeping track of homeless individuals much more complicated. That being said, if a person who is homeless goes missing, it may take a lot of time to realize that the person is missing depending on the city and how social they were. The more social a person is, the more people keep tabs on them. However, with homelessness comes a lot of change, like relocating, finding permanent housing, or moving to a shelter. Due to those possible changes, people don’t always report missing individuals and simply assume they are okay okay.
This moves onto bigger issues, for example, mortality rate. People suffering from homelessness have a lower life expectancy and are more susceptible to life-threatening circumstances. There are times when people, missing or not, are reported missing when in reality they have passed away. With Jane and John Does it becomes difficult to keep track of these individuals and notify authorities. Another example is human trafficking. People experiencing homelessness are more vulnerable to human trafficking compared to other groups because they are less accounted for, and thus easier targets. There are stories told where people suffering from homelessness will go along with human traffickers due to the promises of permanent housing and better living conditions. All in all, things are out of hand, and as housing prices go up, more people will have to turn to homelessness and these problems are going to worsen.