Here is some great information from the Homeless Resource Network:
Factors contributing to Homelessness
There are many factors that contribute to an individual or family becoming homeless. See the list below to see a few. Automobile related – Broken down car, no insurance, tickets, etc.
Decline in Public Assistance – Current TANF benefits and food stamps combined are below the poverty level in every state; in fact, the median TANF benefit for a family of three is approximately one-third of the poverty level. Thus, contrary to popular opinion, welfare does not provide relief from poverty.
Divorce – Divorce often leaves one of the spouses homeless. Most often it’s the father, but sometimes it’s the mother and children or everyone involved.
Domestic Violence – Battered women who live in poverty are often forced to choose between abusive relationships and homelessness.
Drug and Alcohol related problems – Rates of alcohol and drug abuse are disproportionately high among the population without homes.
Illness – For families and individuals struggling to pay the rent, a serious illness or disability can start a downward spiral into homelessness, beginning with a lost job, depletion of savings to pay for care, and eventual eviction.
Job loss – No income to pay rent.
Lack of affordable housing- The lack of affordable housing has lead to high rent burdens (rents which absorb a high proportion of income), overcrowding, and substandard housing.
Lack of child support – In families where child support is ordered but not paid, the decrease in income can lead to an inability to pay rent, utilities, or both.
Low wages – Declining wages have put housing out of reach for many workers: in every state, more than the minimum wage is required to afford a one- or two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent
Mental Illness – Approximately 20-25% of single adult people experiencing homelessness suffer from some form of severe and persistent mental illness.
Natural Disaster/Fire – Situations where due to chance a fire, tornado, flood or hurricane renders housing inhabitable.
Physical Disabilities – Disabled individuals may be unable to work or find appropriate employment. For those receiving SSI, they often struggle to obtain and maintain stable housing.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – This disorder is common with veterans and those that have been in violent situations. It can make it difficult to have a stable life.
Poverty – Being poor means being an illness, an accident, or a paycheck away from living on the streets. Roommates – When one or more roommates fall through with their end of the bargain that can be a reason for others to lose their housing.
Severe Depression – Can make it impossible for an individual to maintain a stable life. Tragedy – It is surprising how many people just quit functioning because their families died or were killed. Sometimes recently, but other times years ago.