While poverty is the leading cause of homelessness, there are other reasons why a family becomes homeless:
Lack of affordable housing
While one or both parents may work, they often do not make a sufficient wage to cover housing costs. Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care. An estimated 12 million households now pay more then 50 percent of their annual incomes for housing. A family with one full-time worker earning the minimum wage cannot afford the local, fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States.
Domestic violence affects women and their children. When a woman flees an abuser, she often takes nothing but her children with her. She may have to change her life completely: quitting her job or school, severing contact with family and friends, leaving the community on which she has relied. Nearly 25 percent of all homeless women have fled from domestic violence.
Many parents struggle to move past minimum wage positions without access to professional development or a post-secondary degree. Job skills training and access to continuing education factor into a family’s opportunity for economic mobility. Furthermore, lack of affordable childcare is a huge economic barrier for homeless families. In all 50 states the cost of child care for two children exceeds the average family’s rent payment.
The issues of poverty, domestic violence, and lack of affordable housing are all compounded when a homeless mother is still a teenager. It is a challenge for her to complete high school, work and care for her children.