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  THE LOW INCOME & URBAN HOUSING BLOG  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Homeowner One Day, Homeless The Next -- Homelessness Can Happen To Anyone!


Most homeless people are treated with disregard and often with disdain. People who pass by them think the homeless are lazy, not interested in working, and just looking for handouts. But the face of the homeless has changed. The homeless now includes many people who once owned their own home, had jobs and lived normal and productive lives.

What has changed?

Would you be shocked to learn that 15 percent of the homeless do have jobs? Yes, it's true. They have jobs but it isn't enough to pay for housing. How does this happen? Consider that between 47 million and 50 million Americans are now living at the poverty level. Many are surviving because of government programs such as food stamps. But what happens when something catastrophic occurs, such as a job loss or medical emergency that piles up medical bills? The result can easily transition into losing their home and living in shelters or on the street.

The economy

The economy has certainly played a role in pushing many over the edge, many who thought they would never find themselves in a position of being homeless. Not just people living in poverty but also people who have no savings and are heavily mortgaged and have credit to the maximum are living on the edge of poverty. It wouldn't take much for it all to crumble. Jobs remain unstable, manufacturing jobs are declining and many jobs are being outsourced outside the U.S. The odds of loving a job today are greater than ever.

According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, 70 percent of the homeless are the result of economic factors. This includes over 38 percent due to not enough income, over 31 percent due to loss of a job, and over 26 percent due to a disability. The truth is, these are things that can happen to anyone, anywhere.

Housing costs

In addition to the economy, housing costs have increased to the point where many people are paying 50 percent or more on housing, compared to the 30 percent recommended by HUD. On top of this, affordable housing for low-income people has decreased, making it even more difficult for people in distress to even find a place to live. The wait on government subsidized housing can be up to three years.

So, the next time you see a homeless person on the street, think twice before you judge them. Times have changed. This person could be you.
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