Homelessness is a complex issue affecting millions of individuals around the world. It is one of the most pressing concerns of our time. Effective strategies must be developed to combat this plight and provide the support and assistance needed to help individuals regain stability in their lives. Read on to learn more.
WHAT ARE THE STAGES OF HOMELESSNESS?
There are different stages of homelessness caused by a wide range of life events and experiences, from poverty to unemployment to disability, to family disruptions. It is an issue for people from all walks of life, and of every age and stage. People can become at-risk and suffer precarious housing conditions, experience temporary sheltered homelessness, or even end up completely unsheltered and homeless.
At-risk of Homelessness
The journey into homelessness often begins when people find themselves in precarious housing situations. In this first stage of homelessness, people are usually facing unstable living conditions, struggling to afford rent, utilities, and other basic necessities. These individuals may be living paycheck to paycheck. Being at risk of becoming homeless in this way is marked by a lack of security, as individuals are unable to establish a stable living environment while constantly on the brink of financial trouble.
Temporary Sheltered Homelessness
As precarious housing situations worsen, individuals often progress into more severe stages of homelessness. Sheltered homelessness usually follows, including both episodic and transitional homelessness. This stage involves people seeking temporary refuge in shelters, emergency housing, or transitional housing facilities. Unfortunately, these temporary options often present additional challenges (e.g., overcrowding, limited privacy, etc.), especially for those struggling in other ways (e.g., facing mental health issues, substance abuse problems, traumatic experiences, etc.).
The most visible stage of homelessness is unsheltered homelessness, where people live on the streets in makeshift encampments or other public spaces. Unsheltered homelessness exposes individuals to everything from extreme weather conditions and physical safety risks to a lack of access to basic hygiene facilities and medical care. The reasons for unsheltered homelessness vary widely, including job loss, mental illness, addiction, domestic violence, and a lack of affordable housing options.
Solving homelessness requires a compassionate, comprehensive approach that connects transient people with essential services and that provides access to homelessness assistance programs for help transitioning into more stable living situations. But with homelessness ever on the rise, tackling it requires greater collaboration between government entities, communities, and nonprofits to create the kind of safety net that prevents individuals from falling into and/or staying in homelessness.
One nonprofit organization doing its part in Austin, Texas is Art From the Streets. By providing a safe and encouraging environment for artistic expression, Art From the Streets fosters a culture of empathy and understanding that helps to break down stigmas associated with homelessness, encouraging transient individuals to rebuild their lives through art.
State of Homelessness: 2023 Edition, National Alliance to End Homelessness
Definitions of Homelessness, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
The Salvation Army Texas Division: Housing Programs
Art From the Streets is an Austin-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that was established in 1991 to give transient people a way to develop as artists and use their creativity to climb out of homelessness. Purchasing artwork supports the artists directly. Donating to our program helps us to offer a free Open Studio for the homeless and at-risk.