Updated December 2023.

Today, most households become homeless because they simply do not make enough money to pay for housing.

Low-Income, High Risk

Low-income households are typically unemployed or underemployed due to a number of factors, such as a challenging labor market; limited education; a gap in work history; a criminal record; unreliable transportation or unstable housing; poor health or a disability.

For those who are low-income but employed, wages have been stagnant and have not kept pace with expensive housing costs. The typical American worker has seen little to no growth in his/her weekly wages over the past three decades. Too little income combined with the dwindling availability of low-cost housing leaves many people at risk for becoming homeless.

Solutions to Filling the Income Gap

Those who are homeless face significant obstacles to finding and maintaining employment. Finding a home is a critical first step. Job training and placement programs, such as those funded by the federal government, also provide the tools some people need to secure stable, long-term employment. Improving access to supportive services, such as childcare subsidies and transportation assistance, would also go a long way in helping people stay employed, achieve housing stability and remain housed.

When Work Is Not an Option

Many of those who experience homelessness are unable to work due to a disability, or are not able to quickly earn the money they need for rent. If eligible, these individuals may be able to receive cash assistance from Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or similar programs described below.