Homelessness is not a new issue, yet it is not receiving enough attention for the general public and lawmakers. As of January 2019, approximately 568,000 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States. This was an increase of 15,000 people from 2018. In 2020, this number rose to 580,000. According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, two trends are primarily responsible for this national rise: a growing shortage of affordable rental properties and a simultaneous increase in poverty. These two factors, in combination with persistent inflation, contribute to the massive homelessness crisis seen today. Other factors that can lead to homelessness are substance abuse, escaping domestic violence, disabilities, and mental health.
About 30 percent of those experiencing homelessness are adults and children in families. January 2020 was the first time since 2010 that the population of families experiencing homelessness did not decrease, with roughly 16,667 individuals in families living in an unsuitable environment across the nation. Children experiencing homelessness suffer from higher levels of emotional and behavioral problems, increased risk of serious health problems, are more likely to endure separation from their families and have more issues in school.
For many adults and families experiencing homelessness, domestic violence is very common. For some, it can be the immediate cause of homelessness. This is where homeless service programs play a huge part in helping those facing food and housing insecurity. Some survivors of domestic violence may turn to these programs for emergency or temporary housing after fleeing an abusive relationship, because they lack economic resources, and or friends and family to rely on.