Today homelessness infiltrates nearly all communities, ages and family structures. Among developed countries, the United States has the highest number of women and children experiencing homelessness. In 2015, 564,708 individuals faced the reality of homelessness.
Homelessness is more than physical discomfort, it can cause fear for personal safety, stigmatization and isolation, and a sense of hopelessness. Children without secure and stable housing are at increased risk for lower educational attainment, jeopardized physical and mental health, and decreased social development. Childhood trauma is the leading factor for adult homelessness.
People become homeless primarily because of a lack of income and affordable housing. One-third of homeless adults in Minnesota are working full time. Certain populations are more apt to be homeless such as those with criminal records, credit complications, drug or alcohol difficulties and chronic health issues. Often an initial problem will compound into other issues that eventually lead to homelessness.
Allowing homelessness to persist unaddressed can be more costly than providing services that end homelessness. For instance, for an overnight stay in a regional mental health treatment center the average cost is $618, county detox facility $218, and an emergency room visit $335. This is in contrast to an emergency shelter stay of $23-$43 or permanent supportive housing at $47 per night.
Suburban homeless are considered the hidden homeless, turning to family or friends for temporary living quarters. Even if they cannot be seen they are still in need of services and support. While family and friends are willing to provisionally assist, the stress and expense of sustaining additional people in the household can strain relationships to the point of breaking which further isolates the homeless.
Despite efforts over time to reduce it, homelessness persists in America and Dakota County. Lack of understanding of the issues, incoherent systems, and insufficient political will have all contributed to the deficiency of success.
Ultimately, history will be the judge to whether a society is just by seeing how it treats its most underprivileged members.
Dakota Woodlands, 3430 Wescott Woodlands, Eagan, MN 55123 | Telephone: 651-456-9110 | www.dakotawoodlands.org