What are the four types of homelessness?

What are the four types of homelessness?

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July 1, 2024



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Homelessness is a shocking experience that turns a person's life upside down. People fall rather than walk into homelessness and often have significant trouble finding their way back out.

The Hidden Homeless have lost their permanent residence but have social support from family or friends to sleep on couches or have a temporary room. Their temporary arrangements are a safety net that allows for time to recover from health or financial emergencies. This group is not counted among the homeless because they do not access services. They will be at risk of longer-term homelessness if their temporary arrangements fall through and they are unable to secure new housing without help.

The Transitional Homeless have lost their housing due to a major life change or event. Like the hidden homeless, loss of employment, health, domestic crises, or eviction force a major life change that puts individuals out of their homes. This group includes families that are temporarily homeless who sleep in cars, outside or seek shelter support. These people still have jobs and are employable once the critical event has passed. They cannot afford rent and other expenses and need program services that make the transition back into permanent housing possible.

The Episodic Homeless experience cycles of instability often caused by substance abuse or mental health problems. They are generally older teens and young adults who have been homeless three or more times during the past year. These are young people who come and go from home, get on and off medication, use alcohol and other drugs, and quit to get help and return home.

The Chronically Homeless have been without a permanent residence for over a year or have had frequent episodes of homelessness within the last couple of years. They may sleep in temporary shelters, hotels, vehicles, tents, RVs, or makeshift enclosures to protect themselves from the elements. They frequently have long-term health conditions like mental illness, substance use disorders, disabilities, or medical issues that cause instability and fluctuations in their resources and daily lives.

Those who volunteer or work with the unhoused can expect to encounter many paths to homelessness among those they serve.

Source: What Are The 4 Types of Homelessness?

Melissa is a communications professional with 30 years of experience in digital and print content production, editing, research, community engagement, and development. She specializes in telling stories that allow people not only to understand a topic but also to embrace a mission.

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Melissa Amour