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Despite America being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, homelessness continues to be an epidemic throughout the nation. While homelessness is an issue present throughout the globe, the United States has some of the largest populations of homeless in cities such as New York City and Las Angeles, Boston, and Phoenix. Despite many efforts being made in our government to end homelessness, there is still much to be done. To understand homelessness, it is important to take a look at the multiple issues that bring an individual to the situation, as well as what policies and efforts are being made to aid those without a home.

Homelessness can be defined as a person who lacks permanent housing. Without permanent housing, many individuals will seek out shelters, abandoned buildings, vehicles, or will sleep in the streets. In 2017, 553,742 individuals were identified as being homeless. There are numerous possible causes for a person to be homeless. Poverty, health issues, drug or alcohol abuse, and domestic violence are just a few of the causes in addition to the lack of affordable housing. An article from Zillow explains how the rising costs of rent and housing can equally be associated with the rate of homelessness in communities. In the past five years, the median of rent costs in the U.S. has risen 11 percent. This increase means that a renter earning the median income would need to be spending 28.2 percent of their earnings on rent alone. Research shows that there are two thresholds within rent affordability that correlate with homelessness. Increases beyond 22 percent in rent affordability can result in more individuals experiencing homelessness, while increases above 32 percent can lead to a high rate of homelessness and possibly even a crisis within the community.

There are tons of ways individuals can help the homeless throughout their communities. Volunteering your time or donating supplies to local shelters, food pantries, and organizations committed to ending homelessness is a great start. While continued effort from communities and advocates has yielded significant results, there is a need for more solutions from the government to aid in the efforts to decrease and put an end to homelessness. Traditional methods, such as government programs and funding are at the core of the forces being used to combat the social issue. There are multiple pieces of legislation awaiting in Congress that will affect homelessness, as well.

Every human should have access to the basic needs to survive, including shelter. With the rates of homelessness rising throughout the country, a combined effort of community support, government funding, the passing of legislature is vital to decreasing rates of homelessness and ensuring every human can access their basic needs for survival.