Top Contributors to Homelessness
When giving tours of our facilities and presentations about what we do at Coalition for the Homeless, we are frequently asked questions about the population we serve. One of the most surprising pieces of information we share with our visitors and audiences is that many of our clients are actually working, and yet are unable to earn wages that meet their basic needs. For many who perceive the homeless as either lazy or lacking motivation to better their circumstances, this is an eye-opener into the reality of poverty in America.
With Hunger and Homelessness Awareness month underway, we would like to take the time to bring awareness to a few of the main contributors to homelessness:
- Lack of affordable housing and low wages: A primary contributor to homelessness is the lack of rental housing that very low-income people can afford. In Orlando, service industry employment accounts for 40% of jobs, with resulting wages of $9 per hour with limited benefits. The average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Orlando requires an hourly wage of more than $18.00 – making rent almost impossible for a minimum wage couple to afford, even with both working 40 hours per week.
- Loss of income or unemployment: Any disruption for low-income families such as unexpected illness and medical expenses, unemployment, divorce, loss of transportation, etc. can create a crisis and may make it impossible for families to maintain their housing.
- Domestic violence: Victims of domestic violence flee their homes, sometimes with only the clothes on their backs.
- Drug/alcohol addiction or mental illness: Untreated addictions and mental illness make it nearly impossible to maintain a steady job, pay bills or maintain healthy relationships.