Saturday, February 13, 2016

Causes of homelessness?

What causes homelessness?

There is one cause and that's the lack of affordable housing. But what causes people to be unable to afford housing?

There's a long list:
  • Greedy landlords raise the rent higher than you can pay.
    • This has been reported in the papers, often, in and around Seattle.
    • Rents generally have risen too high for many to afford.
    • Developers are building high-rent apartments, and avoiding developing low-rent apartments, in Seattle.
  • Landlords evict you, self-help style, and seize your belongings
    • Several homeless I have talked to have said the police didn't help them when their landlord robbed them.
  • You lose your job, and don't have enough saved up to pay rent until you find another one
    • Even though the official unemployment rate is 4%, finding work is hard.
  • Your parents kick you out of the house because you're gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, et cetera
    • A large percentage of homeless youth are LGBTQ, and many are under 18. Yes, their parents kick them out, sometimes quite young. The youth don't want to go back -- would you go back to parents who hate what you are?
  • You move to a city in a last desperate gamble to find work, leaving everything else behind
    • I hear many tales of this.
    • In Seattle, some employers will not hire you if you haven't been here at least 2 years. Overcoming the discrimination is tough.
  • Your small business folds (80% failure rate every 5 years)
    • 80% of small businesses fail in the first 5 years.
    • 80% of those that are left fail in the second 5 years.
    • Starting a small business means gambling just about everything -- home included. So when it fails, you lose your housing.
  • You graduate from college with a degree in a field for which nobody is hiring
    • When you went to school, perhaps mechanical engineering was in demand. Four years later, mechanical engineers are a dime a gross; you can't find work that pays better than a burger joint.
  • You become addicted to drugs.
    • Your doctor prescribed oxycontin, to which you became addicted. Then he cut you off, and you tried heroin instead. Now you're addicted, and getting some more black tar is more important than paying rent.
  • You're Native American, Black, or Hispanic, and finding work is really difficult.
    • Racial discrimination is alive and well in Seattle. It hides itself in "encampment sweeps" and other actions that affect people of color disproportionately.
All of those, and more, are more distal causes of homelessness.

And, in many of these, there are few choices you, as the potential homeless person, can make to assure yourself of staying housed.