Avibra was created with the specific mission of helping people of all walks of life live happier, more secure lives. We take our commitment to our community at large seriously, and we’re always working to find new ways to make a real difference. Last month, Social Impact featured hunger and poverty. This month, the topic is homelessness and housing insecurity. We will also be donating to Habitat for Humanity, an organization whose mission is to ensure that everyone has a decent place to live.
Housing is often an important part of any person’s financial equation. There’s a rule of thumb that’s been floating around that people should aim to have housing costs make up 30% of their gross (before tax) income every month. For some, that’s easy to hit even working minimum wage. For others, they dream of the day they can find a place for less than 70 percent of their paychecks. Because of these issues, we wanted to dig into the statistics on not just homelessness, but also housing insecurity in the US.
Our communities can all benefit from us working together to make sure that everyone can be free from homelessness and housing insecurity. From local emergency housing to voting and beyond, we can all work together to build a better future for everyone.
What Is Housing Insecurity?
Housing insecurity includes the state of being homeless currently, but it also encompasses the situations that can easily lead to homelessness in the near future. That includes having high housing costs relative to a person’s income, particularly low quality housing, housing in an unsafe location and overcrowded living conditions. You can imagine how each of these factors could contribute to an overall lower quality of life, particularly for children or new families.
The causes of housing insecurity are about as varied as the number of people who experience these problems. Housing prices have increased faster than inflation in the past several decades, making it more difficult to afford housing. For those already spending a large portion of their take home pay on housing, they’re often unable to tuck money away in savings for a potential economic downturn — such as the one we’re seeing now. Housing location and safety are often determined by the amount a person or family is able to pay, too. Each of these issues can put a person in a precarious situation that could take a turn for the worse quickly.
Homelessness in the US
According to the US Council of Economic Advisors, over 500,000 people are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Around 65 percent of them are able to stay in shelters while the remainder are essentially unhoused. The locations with the highest rates of homelessness include Hawaii and Washington DC, while the state with the lowest rate is Mississippi. A third of people experiencing homelessness are families with children. Seven percent are military veterans and another 7 percent are children and young adults without parents.
Homelessness & Housing Insecurity for American Children
It should come as no surprise that children can be particularly hard hit by homelessness and housing insecurity. It often goes hand in hand with hunger, and children facing these issues also often have physical and mental health problems. Imagine how difficult it would be to pay attention in school when you can’t get a good night’s sleep or you don’t know where you’ll be staying on any given night. This instability makes every part of a child’s life much more difficult and magnifies the effects of particular difficulties they may be facing. Homeless children often have to change school districts regularly, making it difficult for them to maintain educational standards or social ties with friends and mentors. Children without the structure that comes with a safe place to stay are also at much higher risk for engaging in risky behaviors, such as alcohol or drug use. Each of these factors can make it more difficult for a child to gather the life skills they need to have a good life in their own future.
Minorities Are More Likely to Face Housing Insecurity & Homelessness
African Americans and Indigenous people are twice as likely than whites to experience housing insecurity in the US. A study by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development showed that Black families are charged more than white renters for housing, are shown fewer options and are turned down for leases more often. Lower incomes also contribute to the housing problems minority families face in America.
LGBTQIA+ Individuals Facing Homelessness
According to surveys by organizations working with homeless people, around 40 percent of youths identify as LGBTQIA+. This group may be particularly at-risk due to a lack of support from their family that led to homelessness in the first place. Instead of being able to lean on family for temporary housing while they’re starting out in life or during an emergency, they’re often left without community resources. Discrimination and stigma can make it even more difficult for them to find secure housing as well.
What We Can Do
It can often seem like a huge undertaking to solve homelessness and housing insecurity. After all, a major part of the problem in the first place is that housing is so expensive for any individual. We can always donate to organizations working to provide targeted housing options to those who need it most. There are plenty of initiatives and organizations working to chip away at the problem in local communities.
Housing is ultimately a local issue. Places with inadequate supplies of housing often have ever-increasing housing prices. Look up your city’s next city council meeting on housing and make a point of going to show support for building new housing in your area. It’s often the people who don’t want new housing built who show up at these meetings, making it difficult to get new buildings approved. In the process, you can learn about what might be standing in the way of new housing opportunities locally.