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Is homelessness a choice? Well, it is a pervasive issue which has been affecting millions of people on a global level.  Homelessness is generally perceived in a simple manner and most often, it is reduced to a choice of these people deciding to live on the street. The real situation, however complicated, encompasses multiple interacting elements, which lead a person to insecure housing. Homeless means to lack shelter, that is designed for humans. But, is homelessness a choice? Or a decision that people make because of certain variables? It is an on-going debate, whether the individual is making a personal choice is it because of issues. In this article we will explore more about homelessness, and the factors that individuals may consider before taking the decision. If you are someone who is looking for information on homelessness, you have landed on the right page–keep on reading to know more about homeless people and how shelter homes support them.

What is Homelessness?

What is homelessness? Homelessness is a complex issue, and it does not have a one-size-fits-all answer; is homelessness a choice or a forced decision? There are multiple social issues, and the lack of  a stable and secure living environment leads to homelessness. A person who does not have a place to call home, is a homeless person. Homelessness can be due to certain reasons, maybe not having a safe and permanent place to live. Not to mention, it can be done in various forms such as sleeping on the streets, taking shelter, staying with friends or family for a short period.

Homelessness is not just sleeping on the streets, at times the inadequate housing conditions also lead to homelessness. Where an individual is living in unsafe housing conditions. To address the issues of homelessness, there are multiple factors; as it is a comprehensive approach.  It has to be defined first for anyone to find out if homelessness is a conscious decision or it just happens by chance for anyone. Homelessness goes beyond having nowhere to stay; it includes no place that can be considered as being secure as a home. It may include sleeping in streets, makeshift shelters, homeless stays at friends’ place, or substandard and unsafe accommodation arrangements.

Factors Contributing to Homelessness:

Is homelessness a choice? That should not be the main question because there are certain factors that lead to homelessness. A person with a stable income living in adequate housing conditions would never make a choice to be homeless. Similarly, there are reasons to homelessness. Below are some factors contributing to homelessness.

Economic Instability:

Homelessness is mainly due to job losses, under employment, and low wages. The ability of people and their households to sustain themselves is often impeded by economic factors, such as high rental and mortgage costs. This is one of the major reasons of homelessness, and when you ask such individuals who sleep on roads, do they have a job? Their answer would be no, and these factors lead them to sleep on the streets.

Lack of Affordable Housing:

One of the challenges faced in most areas related to shortage of affordable housing. Lack of cheap places to live compels people to opt for certain measures that may lead to being homeless.

Mental Health and Addiction:

Homelessness may be triggered or made worse by mental health problems and substance abuse. Nevertheless, one should acknowledge them as a challenge that people go through and not something they voluntarily choose.

Family Breakdown:

Families can be disintegrated for many reasons where one may lack the basic needs such as relationships and shelter. At times, the mother is forced to leave the house with the kids, and in some cases the father has to leave the house. Or at times, when the parents are divorced maybe the step father or mother are the deal breakers.

Systemic Issues:

Cycle of poverty and homelessness may be triggered by discrimination, systematic inequality, and absenteeism of social services in poorer and more marginalised groups.

Debunking the Myth of Choice:

Is homelessness a choice? Some individuals willingly act in a manner that leads to their housing fragility. It is crucial to recognize that the majority of people experiencing homelessness are victims of circumstances beyond their control. The “choice” narrative oversimplifies the complex web of factors that lead to homelessness.

What are Types of Homelessness?

Homelessness comes in various forms, and individuals may experience different types of homelessness throughout their lives. Understanding these types is important for developing targeted solutions and support systems. following are some common types of homelessness:

Chronic Homelessness:

Chronic homelessness refers to individuals who experience long-term and persistent homelessness. These individuals often face challenges such as mental illness, substance abuse, or physical disabilities, which contribute to homelessness.

Episodic Homelessness:

Episodic homelessness involves individuals who experience repeated episodes of homelessness. The causes may include factors like job loss, health issues, or personal crises.

Situational Homelessness:

Situational homelessness occurs when individuals or families find themselves without a home due to specific life circumstances, such as job loss, domestic violence, or family breakdown. Unlike chronic homelessness, situational homelessness is often temporary.

Hidden Homelessness:

Hidden homelessness refers to people who do not have a conventional place to live but may not be readily visible on the streets. This includes individuals staying with friends, family members, or in temporary accommodations, at times they live in cars.

Youth Homelessness:

Youth homelessness affects individuals under the age of 25 and is often related to family conflict, abuse, or aging out of the foster care system. Homeless youth may face unique challenges, including educational disruptions and vulnerability to exploitation.

Family Homelessness:

Families with children can experience homelessness, often due to financial instability, lack of affordable housing, or other crises. Family homelessness highlights the interconnectedness of housing insecurity and the well-being of children.

Veteran Homelessness:

Veterans may experience homelessness due to a combination of factors such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), mental health issues, substance abuse, and challenges in transitioning to civilian life.

Domestic Violence-Related Homelessness:

Survivors of domestic violence may become homeless when fleeing abusive situations. The lack of safe and affordable housing options can compound the challenges faced by individuals escaping domestic violence.

Understanding these types of homelessness is crucial for offering support services and policies that address the specific needs of different populations. Solutions should include not only emergency shelters like shelter home cc and housing initiatives but also efforts to address the root causes contributing to each type of homelessness.

What is the Solution to Homelessness?

Solutions to homelessness need multifactor solutions which should not be just blaming people for their situations. It involves:

Affordable Housing Initiatives:

For people to have a feeling of stability and security, governments and communities should channel resources toward affordable housing initiatives.

Supportive Services:

Homelessness can be broken by providing mental health services, addiction treatment programs, and family support.

Employment Opportunities:

Stable housing can be achieved when job opportunities are created and employees are paid fairly.

Community Engagement:

Understanding and being able to develop empathy in the various communities will go along-way in helping the public to understand homeless people and stop stigmatising them.


The bottom-line is that describing homelessness as a choice oversimplifies a complicated concept. Effective solutions can be realized when understanding comes from interrelated causes of homelessness. We need to tackle the factors that contribute to economic instability; address affordable housing; and support mental health and addictions if we want a society where there is no homelessness by default but as a preventable and solvable problem.

Lisa Clontz

Author Lisa Clontz

Lisa Clontz is an experienced Executive Director at Shelter Home of Caldwell County, specializing in providing shelter and support services to victims of domestic violence, child support, rape, and sexual assault. With her years of expertise, Lisa passionately assists women and children, helping them access the necessary resources and care they need. Her unwavering commitment to creating a safe environment and empowering survivors has made her an invaluable advocate in the community.

More posts by Lisa Clontz

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