The Issue


Homeless Individuals in Boston, either alone or part of families*


Homelessness, temporary or otherwise, touches everyone—children and youth, people with diplomas and degrees, people with jobs and careers, people with families and people without. Individuals or families may be homeless for a variety of reasons, and there is rarely a single or simple answer to why people face homelessness. 

Key factors include:

  • A lack of affordable housing

  • Poverty and unemployment

  • Sudden job or income loss.

  • Mental illness, substance abuse, and severe trauma, such as domestic violence

  • Youth may face additional high risk factors

For many people experiencing homelessness, it is a temporary crisis, usually lasting a few weeks. Most seek support from their personal support systems - friends and family - if they have them. But when those social supports fail or do not exist, people must turn to those public resources that are available in their community. Organizations exist that focus on prevention, shelter, health, housing, advocacy, and care of those facing homelessness; all require community support if they are to continue their valuable work.

This diversity presents a challenge to defining the scope of homelessness, but the need to address the root causes and provide support is necessary for all facing the possibility or reality of homelessness.  Each of these individuals has a unique story – homelessness is their state of being, not their identity.  All of them are our neighbors in need, and we can and must help them.  

**A snapshot of one night of homelessness in Boston, according to the City of Boston Homeless Census, January 2018

Want to learn more about some of the issues surrounding homelessness in our city, state, and country? Visit our resource page here, or contact us at with any questions and we will help get you the info you are seeking, as well as connect you to service providers in Greater Boston who can share more and provide opportunities for more engagement.