It’s one of the biggest issues worldwide: people that live in the streets because they can’t afford a home. Homelessness occurs for different reasons. According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, an estimated 2.5 to 3.5 million people are homeless. Drug addiction and crime involvement are a couple of things that cause homelessness, but others who are homeless have had reduced opportunities at a normal life because of a mental or physical disability. Here in the United States, however, there are other reasons that people become homeless.
Florida has been voted the most dangerous state for homeless people
According to the National Coalition for the Homeless, in 2012 hate crimes in Florida against people living in the streets more than doubled crimes committed against the homeless in other states. Since 2008, this organization has named Florida three times as the most threatening state for the homeless.
Jerry Jones, National Coalition for the Homeless’ executive director, said that this is because of a “lack of empathy for fellow human beings: the same moral failure that allows our society to tolerate the larger tragedy of homelessness.”
According to HomeAid, more than half of homeless are families with children
HomeAid, a non-profit organization that provides housing for the homeless, says that the majority of people who are homeless became homeless because of a life-altering event or a series of events they weren’t expecting. These events, such as a job loss, losing a loved one or going through a divorce leave many families at a tipping point, emotionally and economically. Without proper care, if these families can’t get back on their feet, they may end up losing their homes.
Some of the homeless are veterans
According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, 11 percent of homeless people in the United States are war veterans. Many have ended up in their situation because of a lack of healthcare, unaffordable housing and few job opportunities that give them a livable income.
The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV) says that most homeless veterans are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and are mentally incapable of maintaining themselves. According to NCHV data, homeless veterans are usually younger than others in their situation, and are mostly between the ages of 18-30. NCHV has determined that 1.4 million other veterans are currently at risk of homelessness.
Ways to help
Even though there are a number of services that help the homeless every year, citizens can also get involved in their local community by supporting non-profit organizations that benefit the homeless, like HomeAid. HomeAid has built more than 200 multi-unit shelters. They provide transitional homes and temporary houses for the homeless and help them regain a normal life. Individuals can also volunteer or make a donation to different shelters or homeless services, like Chapman Partnership, Miami Rescue Mission and Camillus House in Miami.
Due to the high number of homeless people in Fort Lauderdale, the city has been the center of many controversies regarding state laws about homelessness that have in some cases prevented the community from helping them. For example, in the past the city banned feeding the homeless on the streets, but have since backed off the ban. Today, in Broward County there are organizations that help accommodate the homeless and reinstate them into society, such as Broward Partnership and the Broward Outreach Center.
Even though homelessness is an ongoing issue there are ways to prevent people from ending up in that situation. Just learning more about the problem and getting involved in the community takes you one step closer to helping people currently living in the streets. Don’t forget to check out your local shelters and see if the workers there need anything. For more information on homelessness, visit endhomelessness.org, which has specific data regarding homelessness in the United States and ways to help.