Psychology Essay Paper on The Problem of Homelessness in the United States

The Problem of Homelessness in the United States

            Throughout the history of the United States, there has always been a portion of the population that is leading a life that is far below the expected ideal conditions. The shelter usually comes after food as a basic need as far as survival and success are concerned. However, homelessness does not only entail the presence of shelter, but also the sense of safety, the ability to be oneself and a feeling of an individual’s freedom. Homelessness is an aspect of life that is contributed by various biological and social factors in an individual’s life.

Biological Factors that May Lead to Being Homeless

Mental illness

            According to a 2008 Survey, mental illness is considered to be the third largest contributor of homelessness in the United States. The report outlined that 48% of homelessness in the American cities were as a result of mental illness (“U.S. Conference of Mayors: Metro Economies Report Index,” n.d.). Mental illness is described as a medical condition that faces individuals by majorly affecting their mind. The individual’s way of thinking, acting, and feeling is usually altered. Mental illness then diminishes the ability of an individual to carry out his/her daily practices that enable him/her to sustain him/herself. The victims eventually reduce their ability to take good care of themselves and even ruin their relationships with other people in the society (Sullivan, Burnam, &Koegel, 2000).

            Mental illness is observed in the American society through depression cases, post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia. Depression usually causes low mood, low self-esteem, and loss of interest on initially enjoyed practices and destroys the individual’s ability to relate to other people in the society. PTSD also causes severe anxiety disorders in individuals that are brought up with psychological trauma. On the other hand, Schizophrenia affects the foundation of reality in individuals by creating hallucinations.

            The behaviors of mental illness lead most people to face discrimination in their efforts to find jobs and housing facilities. Many landlords/ladies don’t consider having people with mental disabilities in their premises because of the negative stigma that is associated with the condition. Therefore, these people end up being homeless dwelling in the streets.

Physical Disabilities

The majority of the disabled people usually depend on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) as a source of all their needs. To qualify for these aids, one should pass through various legal frameworks that at times limit the disabled people from attaining such advantages. In the United State, there is a segment of these people who are not well catered for and thereby have found themselves in a homeless state. 

There is a negative notion on the minds of most people towards the disabled individuals in the society. These people are usually discriminated in various sectors in the society. The disabled people at times are abandoned by their families a reason that leaves them in a great depression and low self-esteem and later homeless as they cannot be able to sustain themselves (“”Homelessness: Causes, Culture and Community Development as a Solution” by Kaitlin Philipps,” n.d.).

Social Factors that May Lead to Being Homeless

Drug Abuse

            A greater segment of homelessness that is currently being experienced in the United States is as a result of substance abuse. Drug abuse usually takes hold of an individual and further destroys the person’s standard of life. It interferes with an individual’s social and work life negatively by devastating his/her relationship with his/her employer or any other associated party. As the individual becomes more dependent on the substances, he/she experiences a rapid transition in his/her life.  The individual ends up losing his/her job that used to sustain his/her daily requirements. Due to lack of finance to sustain their dependence on drugs, the individuals eventually sell their homesteads. They become useless in the society thereby being abandoned by their relatives thereby becoming homeless (Pollio, North, Eyrich, Foster, &Spitznagel, 2006).

The misuse of substances in the body also can make an individual develop some mental conditions. Excessive drug abuse may lead to the development of mental illness in an individual that also, will drive this individual to a homeless state.


            Inequality among individuals in the society has led to the development of different classes of people. Poverty is a universal social aspect that is available in most parts of the world. In the United States, there is a portion of the population that is leading a life that is much below the ideal standards. Among these group of people, there are some who are not able to raise the required finance to sustain themselves in an ideal homestead. Upon their day to day life struggles they can only raise some money that may cater a portion of their food needs. These people are usually frustrated in life. They are ever in stress on how they can be able to get the necessary basics like food for their survival in the society. These people end up living in the streets because they cannot be able to afford the housing facilities (“”Homelessness: Causes, Culture and Community Development as a Solution” by Kaitlin Philipps,” n.d.).

Domestic Violence

            Relationship conflicts among various families have also negatively impacted the standard of living of individuals in the United States. There are some relationships whereby the partners constantly find themselves in conflicts which usually leads to the exchange of abusive words or wars. The involved partners in most cases end up in depression and developing stresses due to the challenges that they go through in their families. With the persistence of domestic violence, one of the partners develops a psychological problem due to the increased thoughts which make him/her to get out of the homestead and look for another home. 

            In the process of looking new homes, most people end up in streets as they are not able to afford the housing facilities and more so if they used to depend on the other partner. Also, domestic violence may torture development of the children who may opt to run away from their homes with hopes of getting a more comfortable place. However, things tend to work in a contrary manner to the expectations of these children. Due to lack of a new home, these children end up settling in streets. This also has positively contributed to the presence of homelessness in the United States(“”Homelessness: Causes, Culture and Community Development as a Solution” by Kaitlin Philipps,” n.d.).

According to these aspects that likely contribute to homelessness, it’s clear that the entire condition is currently being experienced in the cities and other parts of the United States. Mental illness, physical disability, poverty, and domestic violence among others have highly contributed to the development of various psychological conditions among the American people. These conditions propel most people to take various actions that in turn leaves them homeless. It’s to the hopes of these individuals that the government or any other authority will soon consider their challenges and give them a chanceto lead an ideal life as other citizens of America. Now it’s for the government to lay down strategies that will lead to the eradication of the homeless people from the streets of the American cities.


“Homelessness: Causes, Culture and Community Development as a Solution” by Kaitlin Philipps. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Pollio, D. E., North, C. S., Eyrich, K. M., Foster, D. A., &Spitznagel, E. L. (2006). A comparison of agency-based and self-report methods of measuring services across an urban environment by a drug-abusing homeless population. International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research. doi:10.1002/mpr.28

Sullivan, G., Burnam, A., &Koegel, P. (2000). Pathways to homelessness among the mentally ill. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. doi:10.1007/s001270050262

The U.S. Conference of Mayors : Metro Economies Report Index. (n.d.). Retrieved July 12, 2015, from