How to Avoid Homelessness

Reviewed Apr 25, 2017

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Summary

To protect yourself from losing your home:

  • Find the resources you need.
  • Change old, unsuccessful patterns.
  • Build a support network.

How many people are homeless?

On any given night in the United States, close to 700,000 people are homeless. Most live in shelters, but the rest live on the streets, in empty buildings, in cars, or in the woods.

How did they become homeless?

Some lost their jobs, and then their self-respect. Some got behind in their rent, then were evicted. Or, they lost their homes when they couldn’t pay for the mortgage. Some got out of military service. Some got out of jail. Others got into conflicts with family members and had nowhere to go. Many have serious health problems. Health problems can keep a person from working and can cost a lot—in dollars and time—to take care of.

Surveys show 12 million people in the U.S. pay more than 50 percent of their annual earnings for housing. If someone spends more than half of what they make on just one of their many needs, it doesn’t take much to push that person over the line into homelessness. 

If you are worried about eviction or foreclosure, what can you do right now?

What steps can you take to protect yourself from becoming homeless?

Break the cycle of missteps. There’s not much you can do about bad luck, but you can protect yourself from future problems by building a financial and emotional safety net around yourself. 

Here are some long-term actions that should put up a buffer between you and homelessness—as well as many other problems—in the future:

  1. If you have a health problem, including an addiction, get the help you need. Without good health, you are vulnerable to many problems. Build up your physical and emotional strength. If you have no health insurance, find out how you can get some through your job or state. Work on your recovery, and keep at it. If your health problem gets out of hand, it can tear you up and push you into homelessness, very quickly.
  2. Work on positive thinking. Stop focusing on what’s going wrong in your life, and look at all you have going for you. If you are young, you have many good years in front of you. If you are not so young, look at all you’ve learned over the years. Your life experience is worth a lot. Don’t look for trouble. Make a list of your talents, your assets and your blessings, then throw away your complaints, regrets, and fears.
  3. Get organized. Learn how to pay down bills, and pay them on time. Work with a social worker or counselor to build a budget. Put a little money away for the future, or for back bills, child support, or other things you need to pay. Start saving, even tiny amounts. You’ll be surprised how quickly it will add up.
  4. If you don’t have a job, find out what services are on hand to help you find one. If you don’t make enough money to live on your own, find out how you can train for something better, finish your education, or get help finding a low-cost place to live.
  5. Change old patterns. To build a new, successful life, you may need to give up some old, unsuccessful habits. Make new friends, like people who have their lives on track. Read new books, visit new places, and add joy to your life. Quit hanging out with people who will drag you back to your old problems. Close the door on the past and move on.
  6. Get trained for something that will make you proud of yourself, or use your skills to find more financial security. If you never finished high school, sign up for GED classes. If you are a veteran, check into going to college on the GI Bill.
  7. Set goals, then work hard to meet them. If you fail, lower your sights a little, and then work like crazy to reach them again.
  8. Get in touch with your family. The tough events of your life may have caused you to burn some bridges. Family is major. Make that call or write that letter you’ve thought about for so long. Work on building new relationships with your family, so they can be part of your first line of support.
  9. Give up your shame. Thousands of people have walked in your shoes. Anyone can become homeless.  
  10. Network with people who have worked through the same problems. Get help and support from those who truly get it.

Most important: Don’t worry yourself into a disaster. If you learn how to take care of yourself, build up some financial and network resources and keep focused on the present and the future, many of the problems that led you to the brink of losing a place to live will go away.  

Resources

Mental Health America
(800) 969-6642
www.mentalhealthamerica.net/

Helpful websites

Frequently asked questions about the homeless, www.endhomelessness.org/section/about_homelessness/faqs#people

National Resource Directory, primarily for veterans, but contains many good contacts for anyone, www.nrd.gov/

Call 211 for confidential information and referrals for help with food, housing, employment, health care and more. Learn more about your local 211 at www.211.org/.

Call the toll-free number on this site for more support.

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Isiah Bingham, BSW, QMHP, MSW, ACSW, Lead Social Worker/Case Manager, The Next Step Program, Norfolk, VA; William Shryer DCSW, LCSW, Clinical Director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare, Danville, CA; LeslieBeth Wish, EdD, MSS, psychologist and licensed clinical social worker, Sarasota, FL.

Summary

To protect yourself from losing your home:

  • Find the resources you need.
  • Change old, unsuccessful patterns.
  • Build a support network.

How many people are homeless?

On any given night in the United States, close to 700,000 people are homeless. Most live in shelters, but the rest live on the streets, in empty buildings, in cars, or in the woods.

How did they become homeless?

Some lost their jobs, and then their self-respect. Some got behind in their rent, then were evicted. Or, they lost their homes when they couldn’t pay for the mortgage. Some got out of military service. Some got out of jail. Others got into conflicts with family members and had nowhere to go. Many have serious health problems. Health problems can keep a person from working and can cost a lot—in dollars and time—to take care of.

Surveys show 12 million people in the U.S. pay more than 50 percent of their annual earnings for housing. If someone spends more than half of what they make on just one of their many needs, it doesn’t take much to push that person over the line into homelessness. 

If you are worried about eviction or foreclosure, what can you do right now?

What steps can you take to protect yourself from becoming homeless?

Break the cycle of missteps. There’s not much you can do about bad luck, but you can protect yourself from future problems by building a financial and emotional safety net around yourself. 

Here are some long-term actions that should put up a buffer between you and homelessness—as well as many other problems—in the future:

  1. If you have a health problem, including an addiction, get the help you need. Without good health, you are vulnerable to many problems. Build up your physical and emotional strength. If you have no health insurance, find out how you can get some through your job or state. Work on your recovery, and keep at it. If your health problem gets out of hand, it can tear you up and push you into homelessness, very quickly.
  2. Work on positive thinking. Stop focusing on what’s going wrong in your life, and look at all you have going for you. If you are young, you have many good years in front of you. If you are not so young, look at all you’ve learned over the years. Your life experience is worth a lot. Don’t look for trouble. Make a list of your talents, your assets and your blessings, then throw away your complaints, regrets, and fears.
  3. Get organized. Learn how to pay down bills, and pay them on time. Work with a social worker or counselor to build a budget. Put a little money away for the future, or for back bills, child support, or other things you need to pay. Start saving, even tiny amounts. You’ll be surprised how quickly it will add up.
  4. If you don’t have a job, find out what services are on hand to help you find one. If you don’t make enough money to live on your own, find out how you can train for something better, finish your education, or get help finding a low-cost place to live.
  5. Change old patterns. To build a new, successful life, you may need to give up some old, unsuccessful habits. Make new friends, like people who have their lives on track. Read new books, visit new places, and add joy to your life. Quit hanging out with people who will drag you back to your old problems. Close the door on the past and move on.
  6. Get trained for something that will make you proud of yourself, or use your skills to find more financial security. If you never finished high school, sign up for GED classes. If you are a veteran, check into going to college on the GI Bill.
  7. Set goals, then work hard to meet them. If you fail, lower your sights a little, and then work like crazy to reach them again.
  8. Get in touch with your family. The tough events of your life may have caused you to burn some bridges. Family is major. Make that call or write that letter you’ve thought about for so long. Work on building new relationships with your family, so they can be part of your first line of support.
  9. Give up your shame. Thousands of people have walked in your shoes. Anyone can become homeless.  
  10. Network with people who have worked through the same problems. Get help and support from those who truly get it.

Most important: Don’t worry yourself into a disaster. If you learn how to take care of yourself, build up some financial and network resources and keep focused on the present and the future, many of the problems that led you to the brink of losing a place to live will go away.  

Resources

Mental Health America
(800) 969-6642
www.mentalhealthamerica.net/

Helpful websites

Frequently asked questions about the homeless, www.endhomelessness.org/section/about_homelessness/faqs#people

National Resource Directory, primarily for veterans, but contains many good contacts for anyone, www.nrd.gov/

Call 211 for confidential information and referrals for help with food, housing, employment, health care and more. Learn more about your local 211 at www.211.org/.

Call the toll-free number on this site for more support.

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Isiah Bingham, BSW, QMHP, MSW, ACSW, Lead Social Worker/Case Manager, The Next Step Program, Norfolk, VA; William Shryer DCSW, LCSW, Clinical Director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare, Danville, CA; LeslieBeth Wish, EdD, MSS, psychologist and licensed clinical social worker, Sarasota, FL.

Summary

To protect yourself from losing your home:

  • Find the resources you need.
  • Change old, unsuccessful patterns.
  • Build a support network.

How many people are homeless?

On any given night in the United States, close to 700,000 people are homeless. Most live in shelters, but the rest live on the streets, in empty buildings, in cars, or in the woods.

How did they become homeless?

Some lost their jobs, and then their self-respect. Some got behind in their rent, then were evicted. Or, they lost their homes when they couldn’t pay for the mortgage. Some got out of military service. Some got out of jail. Others got into conflicts with family members and had nowhere to go. Many have serious health problems. Health problems can keep a person from working and can cost a lot—in dollars and time—to take care of.

Surveys show 12 million people in the U.S. pay more than 50 percent of their annual earnings for housing. If someone spends more than half of what they make on just one of their many needs, it doesn’t take much to push that person over the line into homelessness. 

If you are worried about eviction or foreclosure, what can you do right now?

What steps can you take to protect yourself from becoming homeless?

Break the cycle of missteps. There’s not much you can do about bad luck, but you can protect yourself from future problems by building a financial and emotional safety net around yourself. 

Here are some long-term actions that should put up a buffer between you and homelessness—as well as many other problems—in the future:

  1. If you have a health problem, including an addiction, get the help you need. Without good health, you are vulnerable to many problems. Build up your physical and emotional strength. If you have no health insurance, find out how you can get some through your job or state. Work on your recovery, and keep at it. If your health problem gets out of hand, it can tear you up and push you into homelessness, very quickly.
  2. Work on positive thinking. Stop focusing on what’s going wrong in your life, and look at all you have going for you. If you are young, you have many good years in front of you. If you are not so young, look at all you’ve learned over the years. Your life experience is worth a lot. Don’t look for trouble. Make a list of your talents, your assets and your blessings, then throw away your complaints, regrets, and fears.
  3. Get organized. Learn how to pay down bills, and pay them on time. Work with a social worker or counselor to build a budget. Put a little money away for the future, or for back bills, child support, or other things you need to pay. Start saving, even tiny amounts. You’ll be surprised how quickly it will add up.
  4. If you don’t have a job, find out what services are on hand to help you find one. If you don’t make enough money to live on your own, find out how you can train for something better, finish your education, or get help finding a low-cost place to live.
  5. Change old patterns. To build a new, successful life, you may need to give up some old, unsuccessful habits. Make new friends, like people who have their lives on track. Read new books, visit new places, and add joy to your life. Quit hanging out with people who will drag you back to your old problems. Close the door on the past and move on.
  6. Get trained for something that will make you proud of yourself, or use your skills to find more financial security. If you never finished high school, sign up for GED classes. If you are a veteran, check into going to college on the GI Bill.
  7. Set goals, then work hard to meet them. If you fail, lower your sights a little, and then work like crazy to reach them again.
  8. Get in touch with your family. The tough events of your life may have caused you to burn some bridges. Family is major. Make that call or write that letter you’ve thought about for so long. Work on building new relationships with your family, so they can be part of your first line of support.
  9. Give up your shame. Thousands of people have walked in your shoes. Anyone can become homeless.  
  10. Network with people who have worked through the same problems. Get help and support from those who truly get it.

Most important: Don’t worry yourself into a disaster. If you learn how to take care of yourself, build up some financial and network resources and keep focused on the present and the future, many of the problems that led you to the brink of losing a place to live will go away.  

Resources

Mental Health America
(800) 969-6642
www.mentalhealthamerica.net/

Helpful websites

Frequently asked questions about the homeless, www.endhomelessness.org/section/about_homelessness/faqs#people

National Resource Directory, primarily for veterans, but contains many good contacts for anyone, www.nrd.gov/

Call 211 for confidential information and referrals for help with food, housing, employment, health care and more. Learn more about your local 211 at www.211.org/.

Call the toll-free number on this site for more support.

By Paula Hartman Cohen
Source: Isiah Bingham, BSW, QMHP, MSW, ACSW, Lead Social Worker/Case Manager, The Next Step Program, Norfolk, VA; William Shryer DCSW, LCSW, Clinical Director, Diablo Behavioral Healthcare, Danville, CA; LeslieBeth Wish, EdD, MSS, psychologist and licensed clinical social worker, Sarasota, FL.

The information provided on the Achieve Solutions site, including, but not limited to, articles, quizzes, and other general information, is for informational purposes only and should not be treated as medical, health care, psychiatric, psychological or behavioral health care advice. Nothing contained on the Achieve Solutions site is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment or as a substitute for consultation with a qualified health care professional. Please direct questions regarding the operation of the Achieve Solutions site to Web Feedback. If you have concerns about your health, please contact your health care provider.  ©2017 Beacon Health Options, Inc.

 

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