Homelessness in America

Homelessness is one of the most pressing issues America faces today. In 2023, over 660,000 people were known to be homeless, but the number is likely higher. Homelessness is a deeply complex and multifaceted issue, making it extremely difficult to fix with only one or few solutions. Broken systemic factors including poverty, unemployment, high cost of living, lack of affordable housing, mental and physical illness, and domestic violence, all contribute to the homelessness problem. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the historic inflation that has followed, have only exacerbated the issue, and many Americans have lost their homes due to unemployment and economic instability. Additionally, the United States is facing a crushing housing deficit, with rent and purchase prices becoming far higher than wages. This has led many to face housing instability that may not have even four years ago. These, and many other reasons, have led to the 12% increase in homelessness in America in the last year alone. 

Additionally, many other causes of homelessness cannot simply be fixed by providing shelter. Factors including criminal records, physical illnesses, and lack of education can lead a person to experience homelessness more than once, or for prolonged periods. It is essential to provide services to address these underlying causes and to prevent individuals or families from returning to homelessness.

We at Tiny Villages Inc. want to become part of the solution: providing housing for those who cannot afford it and treating the causes of homelessness at their source. 

DEMOGRAPHICS

The following information is based off of 2022 Statistics, provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

General Definitions

Families

Definition: 1 adult and 1 child >18

Representing 40% of the unhoused population

Average Family-Size: 3.2 People

Average Composition: 1 female parent and 2 children

Families make up the largest demographic of unhoused people across the United States. On average, an unhoused family consists of a young mother with limited education and two young children.

One of the most common factors contributing to families becoming homeless is unemployment or under-employment. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, families are often jolted into homelessness, when a lost job, fewer hours, or unexpected expense drastically changes their economic stability and forces them to seek homelessness services. 

Another important factor is domestic violence. Families can find themselves homeless when a partner finally dares to leave a violent relationship and is transitioning to a new living situation. Lack of access to affordable and safe housing can make an already traumatic and dangerous situation even worse, and can even force victims to return to their previous relationship. 

Chronically Unhoused

Definition: 1 person who has been unhoused for longer than a year or repeatedly, while struggling with a disabling condition including serious mental illness, substance use disorder or physical disability

Representing 22% of the unhoused population

Chronic Homelessness differs from other demographics because homelessness is prolonged and sometimes permanent. There are many ways that a person can find themselves unhoused, but typically a person stays unhoused due to one of a few factors, caused by a serious illness.

Those who are struggling with a physical or mental illness can find it difficult to find and keep stable unemployment. This alone makes it difficult to regain housing, especially during a housing deficit. Additionally, homelessness and lack of healthcare access can make these issues worse, deepening the issue over time. 

As the cost of living steeply rises and affordable housing dries up, Chronic Homelessness increases as well. 2023 saw an all-time high for Chronic Homelessness in a post-pandemic world. 

Youth and Young Adults

Youth Definition: 1 person under the age of 17, unhoused without a legal guardian

Young Adult Definition: 1 person under the age of 25

Representing 5% of the unhoused population

Youth: Unhoused youth commonly experience homelessness due to family conflict. Some individuals are forced from their homes by their guardians while others are fleeing violence or abuse. Youth who identify as LGBTQ+, pregnant individuals, parenting individuals, and youth of color are at a heightened risk for homelessness. 

Young Adults: Young adults are at heightened risk for homelessness for similar reasons as youths and individuals. Factors including unemployment and health play large factors. However, children who have turned 18 and aged out of the Foster System find themselves at particularly high risk of homelessness, due to the lack of education and trauma. 

Both homeless Youths and Young Adults are extremely vulnerable groups, and can easily become victims of exploitation and sex trafficking. 

Individuals

Definition: 1 person over the age of 25

Representing 33% of the unhoused population

Finally, homelessness can and does affect anyone. In the United States, a lost job, serious injury or family conflict can throw an individual's life into turmoil. Those who are homeless are at heightened risk of becoming victims of violent crimes and face an onslaught of stigma from the general population. We must provide the resources to help house them, no matter what or who they are.

Race 

Race is a significant and undeniable factor in homelessness in America. Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people are disproportionately affected by homelessness compared to their representation in the population. Current and historic systemic racism, poverty, and discrimination affect education, criminal history and employment opportunities for people of color, causing them to be at a much higher risk for homelessness. Additionally, racism and discrimination can cause severe trauma and mental health issues that can further contribute to homelessness.

The Justice System

The prison and judicial systems can have one of the most significant impacts on homelessness in America. Formerly incarcerated people at 10 times more likely to be homeless than the general public. Those released from prison face significant barriers to employment, largely having a criminal record, limited education, a general lack of financial resources, and stigma. A large amount of those released from prison enter a shelter within days of their release, and can often remain in shelters for extended periods. Lack of stability is a major cause of reoffense and can land a person back in prison. This cycle of imprisonment leads to further homelessness. A person who is imprisoned more than once is 13 times more likely to end up homeless than the average individual. Additionally, in many cities, homelessness itself is criminalized, increasing the problem even further. 

Finally, the United States alone makes up for 25% of the world's incarcerated people, and disproportionately, those incarcerated are people of color. Compounding race and imprisonment means that certain groups are at a higher risk of becoming homeless and reoffending. 

Our Solution

Tiny Villages Inc. is creating affordable housing for everyone, regardless of their situation. We are providing services to address the root causes of homelessness, and providing them with the basic necessities that will empower them to rise out of homelessness for good.