Common causes of homelessness in the United States include poverty, unemployment and a lack of affordable housing, as of 2015. Poverty and unemployment are more common causes of homelessness for families, while substance abuse and mental illness are more common causes of homelessness for singles. A lack of affordable housing is a common cause among both families and singles.
Those who live in poverty have limited resources, making it difficult to pay for life expenses. It's even more difficult if an unforeseen issue, such as an illness or a broken-down vehicle, occurs. People living in poverty must sometimes choose which expenses to pay. In these situations, the high cost of housing make it a common choice to drop.
Unemployment contributes towards poverty, as those who can't find work are unable to make money. Other employment issues that can lead to homelessness include low incomes and jobs that aren't secure.
A lack of affordable housing, particularly low-income housing, makes it difficult for renters to find places to live. Another housing issue that contributes to homelessness is the prevalence of foreclosures.
Substance abuse is a risk factor for homelessness, particularly among those living in poverty. However, it's a less common cause of homelessness, and many addicts don't become homeless.
Mental illness is a cause of homelessness, although not as significant an issue as poverty or housing issues. However, a disproportionate percentage of the homeless have mental illnesses.