With nearly 3.18 million people in the United States, there are 610.042 individuals who are homeless which calculates to about nearly one in five individuals (U.S. Census Bureau, 2014 and HUD/US, 2013). At any time situations can change that can render an individual’s homeless. There are no qualities that exempt individuals from the chances of becoming homeless. However, there are certain predispositions and characteristics that can predict the likelihood of becoming homeless. Homelessness can be contributed to a number of situations such as occupational stress, financial stress, mental health issues, substance use, gender, age, race, disabilities, incarceration, chronic illness, and family stress.
Mental health disorders and substance use disorders are apparent within the population of individuals who are homeless. Mental health disorders and substance use disorders have varying factors that can cause a person to develop each disorder separately. People can often suffer immensely from each one individually. Mental health and substance use disorders can cause significant distress in the lives of those diagnosed. The opposite can also be said that significant distress can cause mental health and substance use disorders. The difference depends on a number of factors such as genetics, environment, resiliency, gender, and age. However, recovery from homelessness, mental health, and substance use disorders is possible if the right resources are available.
Individuals often have their own perceptions and definitions of homelessness. These perceptions generally are over exaggerated. Over exaggerated definitions of what homelessness looks like can be explained by movies, TV shows, internet, and even books. Media influences create an image of what anything is supposed to look like and homelessness is not an exception. However, individuals’ perceptions do not make up the criteria for programs, surveys, or classification purposes.
Functional definitions of homelessness vary based on departments and the operational use of the definition. The definitions used by the U.S Department of HUD includes criteria such as individuals or families lacking permanent nighttime housing, staying at a supervised shelter for temporary housing, using institutions for a temporary stay, losing housing due to eviction, independently living unaccompanied youth and children in homeless families without fixed housing, and having unorthodox primary nighttime living arrangements (e.g. car, park, bus, etc.) (NHCHC, 2014). The U.S Department of HUD definitions is restrictive and used by the U.S Department of HUD funded programs.
Homeless is defined in section 330 of the Public Health Services Act of 1944 (2006) as someone who has inadequate residence through nighttime that includes public or private centers that arrange temporary or transitional living options. The definition in the Public Health Services Act is used in healthcare centers...