Posted by: Lindsey Albertson | February 8, 2009

Some Answers…

Through talking with friends and family I have noticed that folks have alot of questions about homelessness and there are alot of things that they don’t understand. So….here are a few answer. On Louisville’s Coalition for the Homeless website the latest statistics were 2006, they are….

How many people are homeless in Louisville?
10,933 men, women and children were homeless in Louisville during 2006.

What is the fastest growing group who are becoming homeless?

Youth are the fastest growing segment of the homeless – with 652 reported in 2006. This is a 25% increase from 2005. The number of homeless families is also increasing with a 6% rise from 2005.

Why do people become homeless?
There are many factors that lead people to homelessness. The number one issue is lack of affordable housing, followed by substance abuse, job loss, inadequate income, domestic violence, poor money management, illness or mental health issues, or criminal activity.

Why don’t homeless people find a job?

The fact is that many homeless people are working, but they do not earn a high enough wage to live independently. In a survey we conducted with over 1,100 respondents in January 2007, 47% said they were working full time, 32% were working part-time and 9% were performing day labor.

Why do other people who are homeless choose not to work?
Many homeless people have substance abuse and mental health issues that interfere with their ability to maintain employment. In this same survey, respondents reported the following disabilities: 31% substance abuse; 22% physical or medical disability; 19% mental health disability; 5% learning disability.

Are the homeless educated?

23% of the homeless surveyed graduated from high school; 6% from college and 21% reported they had some college education but did not graduate.

Why can’t people who are homeless afford an apartment?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines a fair market rate (rent and utilities) two bedroom apartment in Louisville as $584 per month. According to Greater Louisville Inc, the average cost is actually $700.

A person needs to make approximately $11 an hour to afford a market rate unit. At the current minimum wage of $5.85 an hour, a person would have to work 75 hours per week to afford this apartment.

83% of the homeless who are working make under $10 an hour. As HUD also states, persons should not spend more than 30% of their income on housing. At $10 an hour a person would be spending about 50% of their income on rent alone.

What is the average age of a person who is homeless?

In the United States the average age of a homeless person is 9 years old. In Louisville, we have just-under 1,000 children in our shelters. If we count children who are “doubled up,” meaning they do not have a permanent residence but are moving place to place, that figure jumps to 6,600.

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