What does homelessness in America look like?

As children, we are encouraged to be independent. When you become an adult, it’s OK to abandon your family and friends for a job in another city. I’ve heard many people stop to talk to homeless people and angrily tell them to get a job. As if former criminals who can’t pass a background check can easily bootstrap themselves and get employment. As if someone without an address can get a US identification card and show proof of their identity when applying for a job. As if homeless shelters are not overcrowded and bedbug-ridden to the point that it makes more sense to sleep outside.

46% of the homeless population has severe mental illness and/or drug/alcohol addiction.

How much has been spent over time on helping homeless people find housing?

HousingAssistanceSpending

Well that seems pretty good that it’s been going up, even after having been adjusted for inflation.

What the hell happened in 1985 though?

President Jimmy Carter increased housing spending when he was president, which President Ronald Reagan slashed next term back down to pre-Carter spending. Sweet.

What percentage of the 2015 Federal Budget was spent on housing?

HousingSpending

(Source)

1%.

I once met a woman who had worked doing homeless outreach. When I asked her what homeless people needed the most, she said, “homes.”

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