Why The Solution To Homelessness Is More Complicated Than Building More Houses

Many individuals believe that we simply have to build more homes to reduce the number of people living on the streets. This, however, is a common misconception. Homelessness is far more than a housing issue; healthcare, economics, and education are just a few of the factors that play a part in America’s homelessness crisis. The interconnected relationship between these factors makes solving homelessness particularly difficult. According to Forbes, over half a million people experience homelessness every day in the United States. Of this population, roughly one-third are located in the state of California. But the question is: Why are so many Americans homeless?

Unemployment appears to be the primary cause of homelessness in the United States. Yet, the homelessness crisis can not be solved by simply creating more jobs. Many unhoused Americans say that they lost their job due to an injury or illness, forcing them to live on the streets. Health problems make it difficult to hold a job, which can lead to a declining income and eventually homelessness. Additionally, many Americans receive health care coverage from their employer, which makes medical bills less expensive. Without a job, it becomes exponentially more difficult to access and afford medical care. 

Issues such as this trap many individuals in an inescapable situation. If a person becomes unemployed due to an illness, they lose their income and health coverage. As a result, they can not properly recover from their illness. If the individual can not recover, they can’t hold a job. This cycle is extremely difficult to break, so even if more housing or jobs were to be created, many individuals experiencing homelessness would remain on the streets. 

Those that do not receive a higher education are also likely to find themselves unemployed, thus increasing their risk of homelessness. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, 9% of individuals whose highest level of education was a high school diploma were unemployed. Unfortunately, many American students can not afford to receive an education higher than a high school diploma. According to CNBC, 7% of college students had to unenroll in 2020 due to financial hardships caused by the pandemic. 

Most often, people are forced into homelessness for reasons beyond their control. Common stereotypes that label unhoused individuals as people who make poor life choices are far from true. Individuals experiencing homelessness are victims of unfair systems. Every individual should have access to affordable healthcare and education. Changing the way in which these systems are structured is not a simple task, but a necessary one. Doing so will prevent homelessness and allow every individual to thrive and experience a better quality of life. 


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