Homelessness Fact Sheet for High School Students


National Alliance to End Homelessness

Fact Sheets | January 10, 2010

Files: PDF | 1.48 MB | 3 pages

Widespread homelessness didn’t always exist; however, during the 1980s homelessness increased significantly. Now, on any given night, approximately 672,000 men, women, and children are homeless in the US.

The major cause of homelessness in the US is the lack of affordable housing. This deficit is caused by a low supply of inexpensive housing and low incomes which prevent households from being able to afford housing. Housing is considered affordable when a household spends no more than 30 percent of its income on housing.2 This growing scarcity of affordable housing, combined with the deinstitutionalization of our most vulnerable citizens and a growing gap between earnings and the cost of living, has left hundreds of thousands of individuals and families homeless. In re s p o n s e, the federal government created a two billion-dollar homeless assistance system. This system met the immediate food, shelter, and services needs of homeless people, but, after years of trying to make this system work, it became apparent that this system did not have the resources to end homelessness. Mainstream programs such as welfare, health care, housing assistance, and substance abuse treatment, the systems responsible for providing a safety net for poor people, were shifting the responsibility to the homeless assistance system.

This Fact Sheet is designed to help high school students understand the issue of homelessness. It’s broken up into distinct sections, covering a wide array of issues, and covers the following:

  • Definition of homelessness
  • Major federal programs that address homelessness
  • Statistics for homelessness
  • How to end homelessness
  • What you can do