Experts that have studied Homelessness Risk Factors among various populations have identified a number of situations that could drive a person to live without a true home. The main cause for many people to become homelessness is simply poverty, usually due to a lack of work or employment opportunities. In some countries and locations, this can also be due to underemployment or extremely low wages, such as when a person is able to maintain a job, but the wages earned cannot cover the basic living expenses that are associated with living in a typical apartment or house. This is often seen in metropolitan areas where there is little affordable housing for those people who earn a low income.
While the lack of employment creates a causal situation for homelessness, there are also some risk factors that give a person a higher chance of living on the streets. Mental health problems and disorders is one example of this type of risk factor. Studies and surveys have shown that at least 33% of all homeless people have a mental disorder, thus confirming this link. In the United States, the large scale closure of public mental health facilities has provided inadequate resources for correctly dealing with people that have a mental disorder and many of these people are homeless as a result.

Another situation that can cause large homeless populations to seemingly appear overnight is a war or an oppressive government. In many areas where war has taken place, the inhabitants flee for safety and are housed in temporary refuge camps until the conflict has been resolved. In many of these cases, their home is gone when they return, forcing them into the homeless life. In addition, many oppressive governments have actively created homeless populations by persecuting a specific race or group of people. Forced to leave their previous homes, these people often move to cities where they are homeless until they are able to find adequate employment opportunities.

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