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12 Major Causes of Homelessness

What are the Major Causes of Homelessness? Homelessness – also often referred to as a state of being unhoused or without shelter – is the condition of lacking stable, secure, and adequate housing. 

People can be classified as homeless if they are:

Major Causes Of Homelessness

  • living on the streets, which is also known as rough sleeping (primary homelessness);
  • switching between temporary housing shelters, including houses of close friends and associates, family, and emergency accommodation systems (secondary homelessness); and
  • residing in private boarding houses whilst lacking a private bathroom or security of tenure (tertiary homelessness).
  • having no permanent house or place to safely reside
  • Internally Displaced Persons or persons forced to abandon their places of domicile, and who remain as refugees within their country’s borders.

The causes of homelessness include:


This happens to be one of the main causes of homelessness

It is often used to stereotype homeless people. 

Addicts, especially of Drugs and other highly addictive substances often find it difficult to have any savings left as they spend most of their income (if any) on drugs. 

They then resort to living in trap houses or in extreme cases, on the streets. 

It is also observed the addicts are guilty of gross mismanagement of funds and this gets in the way of their acquisition of a home to reside in


This is also a major cause of homelessness. People who are suffering from domestic violence,  do often times end up seeking a possible substitutes for their shelters. This is often not easy to come by leaving them stranded. 

Women and children make up a higher percentage of this category of the homeless.

However, there has been an increase in the number of men who became homeless due to domestic violence during the last two decades.


The insane tend to make up the highest percentage of the homeless. 

Oftentimes, mentally deranged members of the public are abandoned by their families and loved ones.

The reason for abandonment is oftentimes, a lack of financial muscle to afford treatment

This leaves the victims of mental illness untreated, uncared for, and homeless.


Job loss and Underemployment is a major causes of homelessness.

This is often observed in regions with a high level of unemployment as in underdeveloped or developing countries. 

It is common to see working-class persons become jobless in the twinkle of an eye. 

With lots of bills to foot and housing rents/mortgages to settle, the victim is often left without a choice and a source of living. This leads to homelessness.

This cause of homelessness is peculiar to the male gender who oftentimes are saddled with the job of caring and providing for the family.

However, the family unit doesn’t get left out of the excruciating discomfort that accompanies the incident and the resultant lack of stable and safe shelter.

With an unemployment rate of 33.30%, Nigeria stands among one of the countries with the highest level of unemployment worldwide, according to a 2022 survey.

Nigeria also tops the list of countries with the highest level of homelessness in the whole world. 

With around 28 million persons (13.12% of its total population of around 213 million), it is obvious the relationship between homelessness and rocketing unemployment levels.



A foreclosure happens when the mortgagor fails to keep up their mortgage payments hence resulting in taking over of the mortgaged property.

This leaves the mortgagor homeless as he often has nowhere to turn in this eventuality.


  Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental condition that is activated by a horrifying event — either experiencing it or witnessing it.

Symptoms of PTSD may include nightmares, flashbacks, and severe uneasiness (anxiety), as well as uncontrollable thoughts about the event even during sleep at night.

The symptoms threaten the ability of the sufferer to maintain employment, which in turn threatens their financial stability. 

Without employment and financial stability, they are and remain unable to keep up with their housing and end up experiencing homelessness again hence it becomes like a cycle.

Patients with PTSD ought to visit a Psychiatrist for evaluation and treatment.


A child or teenager who has been rejected or deserted by parents/caregivers and lives on the streets. 

This can also be termed as child abandonment and the reasons for this are varied.

They include but are not limited to: 

  • Financial hardship or poverty, 
  • Single parenthood, 
  • Postnatal depression,
  • Mental disability, 
  • A lack of proper sexual health education, 
  • Poor knowledge of family planning, 
  • Regulations restricting access to abortion and/or
  • The child has some form of disability (physical or otherwise)

However, in Underdeveloped Nations such as Nigeria, for instance, there have been numerous cases of children being abandoned and deserted because “they are accused of being witches and wizards”. 

Accused of bringing bad luck and ill fortune to their parents, guardians, or caregivers, they are thrown into the streets and left homeless.


Relational brokenness is a broad phrase used to define the reasons for the breakdown of relationships due to a loved one’s or our own defective attitude. 

Examples of relational brokenness are rape, sexual abuse, homo-emotional relationships, and co-dependency.

This leads to homelessness of the victim in such situations as the victim has to seek shelter elsewhere away from the abuse that oftentimes accompanies such relationships.


This is the phrase used to describe the situation we find ourselves in when we have lost someone to death.

Bereavement is expressed differently by different people but sometimes leads to homelessness.

It is common in some cultures that a widow is sent out of her late husband’s house after his demise.

Reasons for this include but are not limited to greed and other ill feelings towards the victim who often has nowhere else to go. 

Women and children are oftentimes at the receiving end of this cause of homelessness.


This can be defined as the movement of people to a new area or country.

This is done in the search for better opportunities and living conditions. 

The migration of people worldwide is regulated and overseen by the International Organization for Migration(IOM).

Migrants often find it difficult to settle into their new countries of residence economically and otherwise and are often homeless for the greater part of their early stages of arrival in the new country.

To avoid this, it is always advised that Migrants (except refugees) have concrete plans in place to take care of their accommodation and needs during their first few days of arrival in a new country.


In the wake of war and crises, a lot of people lose their lives, valuables, and homes. 

In the wake of this, a lot of people are left homeless without shelter.

This leads to the creation of Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs) who are usually temporarily housed in IDP Camps.


Homelessness is a profound violation of decorum, social inclusion, and the right to life. 

It is equally an evident breach of the right to housing and infracts a number of other human rights in addition to the right to life, including non-discrimination, wellbeing, water and hygiene, the safety of the person, and freedom from barbaric, degrading, and inhumane treatment.

Outlined above are some of the causes of Homelessness. 

Feel free to add yours in the Comments section.

John is the CREATIVE LEAD at Legit School Info is a team of Resource academicians and Consultants led by John Akpan. However, If you need personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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