Lesson 5: Homelessness
What is homelessness? Homelessness describes the condition of people without a regular dwelling. People who are homeless are most often unable to acquire and maintain regular, safe, secure, and adequate housing, or lack “fixed, regular, and adequate night-time residence.” In 2004, the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, defined a homeless household as: those households without a shelter that would fall within the scope of living quarters. They carry their few possessions with them, sleeping in the streets, in doorways or on piers, or in another space, on a more or less random basis.
Homelessness is a big problem in the world today. An estimated 100 million people worldwide were homeless in 2005. In western countries, the large majority of homeless are men (75-80%), with single males particularly overrepresented. In the USA, LGBT people are over-represented among homeless youth, at 39%. Modern homelessness started as a result of economic stresses in society and reductions in the availability of affordable housing. In the United States, in the 1970s, the deinstitutionalization of patients from state psychiatric hospitals was a precipitating factor in urban areas. By the mid-1980s, there was also a dramatic increase in family homelessness.