Homelessness in America

Nena Arias | March 5, 2018

How bad is homelessness in America? How bad can it be?

The official definition of homelessness is when an individual lacks permanent housing and has to stay in shelters, abandoned buildings or vehicles, on the streets, or in other unstable situations. They may also be considered homeless if they have to “double up” with friends or extended family members because they are unable to provide their own housing.

When you start to consider just how much money there is in America, homelessness seems all the more unthinkable. But the most egregious charge against America in regard to homelessness is the fact that it considers itself a Christian nation and God’s Word instructs us to help the needy.

America is a rich country. Just to put it into perspective, for years California has threatened to secede from the union. Even if California seceded from the United States, it would have the eighth largest GDP of all the countries in the world.

Depending on where you live across the country, you may have different ideas about how widespread the homeless situation is in this country. That’s why statistics can help put things into perspective.

Getty Images/iStockphotoThe National Alliance to End Homelessness states that there are 564,708 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the US. 36,907 (6.38%) are children, 47,725 (8.33%) are veterans, and 269,991 (47.6%) are disabled and unable to work. About 1.56 million people, or about 0.5% of the U.S. population, used an emergency shelter or a transitional housing program between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009. Homelessness in the United States increased after the Great Recession in the United States.

What is the number one cause of homelessness in America? For women, domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness. The country reports that top causes of homelessness among families are: (1) lack of affordable housing, (2) unemployment, (3) poverty, and (4) low wages, in that order. On a single night in January 2015, for example, 564,708 people were considered homelessness in America, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. That’s over half a million people without a roof over their heads each night.

Something that breaks my heart is when many veterans become homeless after having putting their lives on the line yet they don’t have much to show for it. Many veterans fall into homelessness or poverty because the skills they learned in the military aren't transferable to the civilian workforce. Post-traumatic stress disorder, known as PTSD, and substance abuse contribute to problems that lead to homelessness or risk of homelessness for veterans. In my view, it is disgraceful that our country allows this to happen especially when we pay such high taxes to provide for our veterans! 

Scripture tells us that it’s always more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Christians are commanded to always give to the homeless and needy and do it with cheer. God loves a cheerful giver, 2 Corinthians 9:6-7, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

“There will always be some in the land who are poor. That is why I am commanding you to share freely with the poor” Deuteronomy 15:11.

Christians are to be kindhearted and loving with everyone even with our enemies. If we have it and a poor man asks for something and we don’t help, how can we tell him God’s love in us and that God loves him?

We must always look for ways to do the work the Lord has commanded us to do, in this shall the world see God’s love through our good works and glorify our heavenly Father.

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”