Monday, July 07, 2008

Once a person becomes homeless,
it's difficult to live a secure life ever again

Expensive housing, debt and unexpected financial problems are key factors behind homelessness, a new report shows.

"Contrary to popular perception, while alcohol and drugs can keep people on the streets, they are not the main pathway to homelessness," said Rev. Keith Garner of Wesley Mission in Sydney, Australia, which published the report.

Nearly three-quarters of the people interviewed at shelters identified the housing crisis as the major reason for their homelessness. Of those, 88% said accumulated debt and unexpected financial difficulties were factors.

And once a person slips through the cracks to a life on the streets -- where the basic human rights of shelter, safety, health and loving relationships can no longer be taken for granted -- it's difficult to live a secure life ever again. Almost one in five said they had been living on the streets for five to 10 years, while two-thirds had found themselves in crisis accommodation more than six times.

Part of the reason it's so difficult is that homeless people often lose meaningful relationships and their sense of self (of having achieved something in life) deteriorates dramatically. Something as simple as social activities with other homeless people in similar situations can reverse those losses.

Read the report, "More Than a Bed," here.

One of the report's recommendations is improving access to justice. Those of you who visit here know that's my personal mission.


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