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Homelessness is a complex issue that takes on many forms, each with its own challenges and causes. When people think of homelessness, they often see the image of someone sleeping on the streets, but the reality is much more multifaceted. By shining a light on the different types of homelessness, we can gain a better understanding of the diverse experiences faced by individuals experiencing homelessness. Here are four types:

  1. Chronic homelessness refers to individuals who experience long-term or repeated situations of homelessness often because of the ongoing struggle with mental health issues, substance abuse, or physical disabilities.
  2. Episodic homelessness involves individuals who cycle in and out of homelessness due to circumstances like broken relationships or lack of affordable housing. These individuals may find temporary shelter but struggle to maintain long-term housing stability. One example would be an individual working full-time while lacking a stable place to live. Despite efforts to earn a living, they struggle to afford housing in an increasingly unaffordable market. This hidden reality emphasizes the harsh truth that homelessness can affect anyone, regardless of their work ethic, dedication, or employment status.
  3. Hidden homelessness involves individuals who do not have a permanent place to stay, which can often go unnoticed. One example is couch surfing, where individuals move from one friend or family member’s home to another, never having a place to call their own. This lifestyle can be unstable and emotionally draining, as individuals constantly rely on others for shelter, which can also lead to broken relationships and continue the cycle of homelessness.
  4. Youth Homelessness is often rooted in family conflict or caused by aging out of foster care. According to the National Network for Youth, 1 in 10 young adults ages 18-25 experienced homelessness over 12 months.

It is important to understand that the faces of homelessness are different and so are the circumstances that lead someone to our doors. For every unique story, there is a unique approach to provide stability. How can you make a difference in someone’s story? Take action by praying, advocating, volunteering, or donating. Homelessness may look different than you think, and you can make an impact from anywhere.

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