The Effect on Society
The impact of homelessness is not restricted to any person or group; it impacts everyone, regardless of their living situation.
“Homelessness affects everyone's quality of life. It’s not a natural human reaction to walk by and ignore the people that are residing on our streets or are staying in places that aren’t meant for human habitation. I think it makes everyone uncomfortable to have people living that way,” said Sarah Hunter, a senior behavioral and social scientist at RAND Corporation.
Despite being an acquaintance or a newcomer, a stranger's homelessness can have a vast impact on any person.
“If we think of ourselves as connected in the community and as caring people, the fact that somebody is sleeping on the sidewalk and a park bench absolutely affects me as a person,” Montes said.
Factors That Contribute to Homelessness
A wide variety of factors can induce homelessness. Hearts for Homeless is an organization in the Bay Area of California that aims to aid and empower homeless people and help them find a home. Jack Fuller, the CEO of Hearts for Homeless, listed a few potential factors.
“Some of the basic reasons that people are homeless are that they have lost a job, or they might have alcohol or drug abuse problems, or they might have been evicted from their apartment, and they just can’t simply afford rent,” Fuller said.
Another major cause of homelessness is the inability to meet the cost of living. Many average paying jobs do not satisfy the rent of larger cities.
“There is no major city in the United States where a person on minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom apartment. So imagine you're a single mom, working a minimum wage job; your options are really, really limited,” Montes said.
Having engagement in criminal activity is another factor that can cause homelessness.
“Another issue that comes up is involvement in the criminal justice system. So once somebody leaves jail or leaves prison, it’s hard for them to find housing. There are some barriers that landlords have that they won’t rent to people who have a history of criminal justice involvement, who’ve been in jail or prison, so that’s a major factor too,” Montes said.