Homelessness is a global issue that needs global attention. Global homelessness is caused by four primary reasons: a) economic crisis; b) war or political turmoil; c) natural catastrophe; and d) socio-psychological problem.
Economic crises include declining personal incomes, the increasing cost of living, shrinking retirement benefits, reduced social services, job loss, the reduced purchasing power of public support payments, and etc.
Crises emerged from war or political turmoil can result in political refugee, exile or poor immigrant homeless — displaced people who become homeless all over again in their new homeland. Also, sudden natural disasters and catastrophic events will result in natural catastrophe refugees. The statelessness, loss of national identity and citizenship are key features of homelessness for both types of refugees.
Estimated U.S. Homeless Population
Estimated U.S. Homeless Children
The last major set of issues causing homelessness is concerned with socio-psychological issues. These include drugs, alcohol, physical illness, mental problems related to traumatic experience and personality disorder, veteran, age, education, race, family instability in childhood, physical abuse in the household, problematic relationship with partner/relative or death or illness in family, and etc. (Tessler, Rosenheck & Gamache, 2001).
More research is needed to explore the implications of different reasons for homelessness for better treatment. Global homelessness issues requires both global and country-specific research to explore best approaches, determine relevant global health services and policy research questions, and explore how collaborative partnerships and research can be applied in practice with people who are homeless.
Tessler, R., Rosenheck, R., & Gamache, G.(2001). Gender differences in self-reported reasons for homelessness, Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 10 (3): 243-254