600 6th Street, Beaver Falls, PA 15010 [email protected] 724.846.6400

Understanding Homelessness

Fostering a deeper and more realistic understanding

At TCBC, we see homelessness up close every day. We get a first-hand look at its causes and complexities, and we see the impact it has on individuals and families.

Most people do not see homelessness so closely on any regular basis. Often times, ideas of homelessness are informed largely by hearsay, media, and general misconceptions.

The more we understand, the closer we get to fulfilling our vision of ending homelessness in Beaver County. And we invite all in our community to join us in that endeavor!

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Homelessness is a complex issue that can stem from and lead to a range of crises.

Long-term, life-changing solutions require a holistic approach that includes a safety net, a guiding hand, and opportunities for permanent housing, support, physical and mental health care, and/or skills training.

These can be difficult to find and navigate, especially for someone who is experiencing the stress of pending eviction or who is without a home and basic needs

 

Common Myths & Misperceptions

Sound familiar?

  • Homelessness is not preventable; we’ll never fix it.
  • It’s their own fault.
  • Homeless people are lazy and don’t want to work.
  • All homeless people are drug addicts.
  • All homeless people are mentally ill.
  • Homelessness is not a housing problem.
  • If they can afford a smartphone, they’re not poor.

 

Some Important Facts About Homelessness

> FACT: There are many causes of homelessness

A variety of personal, social, economic, or health-related factors can leave a person or family vulnerable.

Some factors are within their control while others are not. Some are individual issues while others are systemic.

In the list below, the leading causes are in bold:

  • Loss of a job
  • Health crisis
  • Low wages
  • Domestic violence
  • Loss of a family member
  • Unexpected expenses
  • Rising cost of rent
  • Addiction
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Natural disasters
  • Mental health issues
  • Lack of education and skills
  • Previous incarceration
  • Divorce and Family Changes
  • Closure of group homes and mental health facilities

 

> Fact: Anyone can become homeless

 Anyone can become homeless given an unfortunate turn of events. Those more vulnerable or at more immediate risk may include:

  • Veterans
  • Elderly
  • Victims of domestic violence
  • Those earning low incomes
  • Gender minorities
  • Formerly incarcerated
  • Those experiencing personal hardships such as divorce, loss of a job, or family problems
  • Those with physical or mental disorders such as PTSD or addiction

 

How these vulnerabilities can lead to homelessness

Vulnerability

  • A variety of personal, social, economic, or health-related factors can place us in a vulnerable position.
  • Vulnerabilities can leave us just a paycheck, illness, or emergency away from losing grip, leaving us on the brink of homelessness.

 

Crisis

  • As a crisis occurs or challenges worsen, we can find ourselves in a financial, psychological, and emotional downward spiral.
  • Stress, anxiety, and depression can diminish our ability to effectively attain or think through solutions. The situation can become (or feel) insurmountable.

 

Inability to Resolve Crisis

  • Shut-off, foreclosure, and eviction notices arrive. The downward spiral continues.
  • If we have resources, strong problem-solving skills, mental clarity, and a support system, we may be able to identify and access the help we need. If not, we may end up losing our home.

 

Homeless

  • With no home, we enter survival mode. It will take all our energy just to stay safe, find a place to sleep, and get basic needs.
  • If we have a local support network, staying with friends/family can be an option. OR, depending on family dynamics and other factors, it can feel burdensome and can exacerbate problems.
  • Shelters can provide a safe place to sleep at night, but have a number of limitations. We still have no daytime home base; no address; no place to keep our belongings; no place to eat, rest or bathe; and no privacy. Solutions become complicated. The downward spiral continues.

 

Fact: Homelessness may not look like you expect it to

We don’t always “see” homelessness. Sometimes people without homes are in places we would expect, and other times they are not. Often they are “hidden.”

  • On the streets or in tents
  • In abandoned buildings
  • In a car/vehicle
  • In motels or hotels
  • At shelters and missions
  • In transitional housing
  • Couch surfing/moving around
  • Doubled up, temporarily staying with family/friends

 

Personal Impact of Homelessness

  • Lack of safety & security
  • Unmet physiological needs
  • Hygiene challenges
  • Employment barriers
  • Complex solutions
  • Not part of society
  • Isolation
  • Mental health challenges

 

Health and Mortality Statistics

Source: National Health Care for the Homeless Council

  • People without homes suffer from the same illnesses as other individuals, but at rates 3-6 times higher.
  • For lack of insurance, safety, and access to care, people on the streets are suffering and dying every day from preventable illnesses.
  • On average, people without homes die 30 years sooner than people with housing.

 

Community Impact of Homelessness

“Without connections to the right types of care, they cycle in and out of hospital emergency departments and inpatient beds, detox programs, jails, prisons, and psychiatric institutions—all at high public expense. Some studies have found that leaving a person to remain chronically homeless costs taxpayers as much as $30,000 to $50,000 per year.”