Facts & Misconceptions
Facts about Homelessness
HOMELESSNESS IS CAUSED BY LOW WAGES AND THE LACK OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING.
Homelessness is primarily an economic problem; the lack of affordable housing and low wages. The high cost of living, low-wage jobs and high unemployment rates force individuals to choose between food, housing and other expenses.
According to the National Low Income Housing - 2013 Out of Reach report, the Illinois housing wage is $17.02 an hour. This is based on Fair Market Rent (FMR) of $885 for a 2-bedroom apartment in Illinois, and assumes a 40-hour work week for 52 weeks a year. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities – without paying more than 30% of income on housing – a household must earn $35,392 annually. With the Illinois minimum wage at $8.25 an hour, a worker must work 82 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or a household must include 2.1 minimum wage earners working 40 hours per week year-round in order to make the two-bedroom FMR affordable.
In Chicago, 50% of all renters are cost burdened. Half of all homeowners pay over 30% of their income towards mortgage payments¹
It takes a family of 3 (adult, preschooler, school-aged child)$55,273 to make ends meet in the city of Chicago.²
Nearly 90,000 Illinoisans working full-time year-round still fall below the poverty line.³
The current unemployment rate in Chicago is 10.2%
In 2009, there was a shortage of 180,000 affordable rental units. It is estimated that this gap is likely to grow by an estimated 44,000 units by 2020.⁴
In other words, low income renters cannot afford to live in the cities and towns where they work.
THE AVERAGE AGE OF A CHILD EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS IN CHICAGO IS 9 YEARS OLD
Homelessness has devastating consequences on children. Children that lack stable housing experience chronic stress and trauma from frequent moves, inconsistent relationships, lack of places to play and from witnessing domestic violence. The stress and trauma is physically, emotionally and cognitively damaging to them.
According to The National Center on Family Homelessness’ 2010 America’s Youngest Outcast Report, children experiencing homelessness:
- 97% move up to three times within one year
- Have experienced abuse and neglect along with the stresses associated with the loss of their home, safety and sense of security
- Go hungry at twice the rate of other children
- Have three times the rate of emotional and behavioral problems, such as anxiety, depression, sleep problems and aggression
- 40% attend two different schools in a year and 28% attend three or more different schools
- Have four times more likely to have delayed development and twice as likely to have learning disabilities
- Are 16% less proficient at reading and math than their peers
- One-third repeat a grade
- Have little or no positive interaction with adults
OVER 2000 YOUTH NEED TO FIND A SAFE PLACE TO SLEEP ON ANY GIVEN NIGHT IN CHICAGO
Chicago Public Schools identified 2,512 unaccompanied youth attending their schools in 2012-13, teens who were homeless and living without parent or guardian. There are only 360 youth beds in Chicago.
Homeless youth face daily challenges while living on their own. They need to secure food and shelter, find a job or return to school. The choices many make in order to survive are often not good for them and can affect their adult life.
Consequences of youth experiencing homelessness⁶:
- 32% have attempted suicide
- Victims of rape and assault at 2 to 3 times higher the rate than their stably housed peers
- More than one-third of homeless youth engage in survival sex (when sex is exchanged for money, shelter, food or other basic needs)
- Only one in four graduate from high school
- Greater risk of suffering from chronic health disorders like asthma and diabetes²
- More likely to suffer from anxiety disorders, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder²
Main causes of youth homelessness⁷:
- Family conflict or severe economic hardship
- Aged out of foster care system
- Victims of physical, sexual or emotional abuse
- Escaping from alcohol and drug abuse in the home
- Sexual orientation
Unaccompanied youth need age appropriate and specific supportive services in a safe setting, far from the hazards of street life. A stable residence with adult supervision is the first step in addressing underlying issues that will shape the course of their lives.
1000 VETERANS ARE HOMELESS ON ANY GIVEN NIGHT IN CHICAGO
According to Volunteers of America - Illinois, approximately 1000 Veterans are homeless on any given night in Chicago. Over 25% of soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are showing acute symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – a significant factor in the high rate of homelessness for Veterans. Approximately 90% of homeless Veterans were honorably discharged from military service and more than 1/3 of them specifically served in a combat zone during their military service. Right now, the number of homeless Vietnam era veterans is greater than the number of service persons who died during that war. Already, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are appearing in the homeless population.
MORE TAXPAYER MONEY IS SPENT TO PLACE A FAMILY IN AN EMERGENCY SHELTER THAN IN A PERMANENT HOME.
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, emergency shelter beds funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Shelter Grant Program cost $8,000 more than the average annual cost of a Section 8 Housing Certificate.
In addition to the personal costs that families experiencing homelessness incur, the societal costs of family homelessness are also significant. These costs include the utilization of publicly funded services such as police, hospital, emergency and impatient serves, and the correctional systems.
AMONG ADULTS EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS, ONE-THIRD ARE VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
From the Conference of Mayors 2012 Status Report on Hunger and Homelessness, it is estimated that among homeless adults in Chicago, one third are victims of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is one of the primary causes of homelessness for women and children⁸. Domestic violence affects women and their children; women often fleeing without a plan only to find themselves and their children in physical and economic trouble and without housing stability.
Shelters provide immediate safety to battered women and their children and help women gain control over their lives. The provision of safe emergency shelter is a necessary first step in meeting the needs of women fleeing domestic violence.
¹Chicago Rehab Network
²Illinois Self-Sufficiency Standard
⁴Institute for Housing Studies at DePaul University
⁵portland rescue mission
⁶National Network for Youth Issue Brief
⁸National Resource Center on Domestic Violence