Homelessness Fact Sheet for Middle School Students


National Alliance to End Homelessness

Fact Sheets | January 10, 2010

Files: PDF | 1.87 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. 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 response, the federal government created a $2 billion 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 students in middle school understand the issue of homelessness. It uses simple language, basic facts, and suggests things young people can do to better understand the issue and help those in need.

Topics covered include:

  • Homelessness statistics – how many people experience homelessness and to what extent.
  • Definition of homelessness – what constitutes homelessness and who is homeless
  • How to end homelessness – community strategies and federal government programs that can assist the homelessness
  • What you can do – what communities and individuals can do to prevent and end homelessness.