What Are The Reasons For Homelessness?

Within the population the Olympia Union Gospel Mission (OUGM) serves, the following are the top three reasons for homelessness…

The number one reason for people to become homeless is rooted in the chronic and persistent abuse they received as children. The statistics are alarming. From ages 0-18, 1 in 8 men and 1 in 4 women is sexually abused by a family member. Many suppress their memories and get along in life, but many succumb to the physical and emotional abuse and try to escape their lives by using drugs and alcohol to numb the emotional impact. They themselves then become the abusers; the cycle repeats itself and is growing exponentially with the population.

The second common reason we see people homeless is untreated mental illness. As progressive as Washington State is, it ranks one of the lowest per capita spending in treating mental health issues. The resources are not available even though people have insurance to get treatment. This then leads to self-medication with drugs and alcohol, especially meth for people who are depressed.
Finally, accumulation of traumatic events like PTSD, fears, insecurity, isolation, and depression in people lead to homelessness. Women and women with children are a smaller percentage of the homeless population, but it’s the fastest growing percentage because of domestic violence and the breakdown of the family.

What is the Mission doing to help?

The Mission is here to meet basic human needs for food, shelter, clothing, and emotional and spiritual support. As God has allowed, the Mission has also been blessed with health services, including dental and vision for those who fall through the cracks and are not covered by Apple Healthcare.

Through the support of committed donors, the Mission permanently moves people from homelessness and addiction to being productive citizens through the residential addiction recovery program. Currently, 20 men and women are in various stages of recovery, with a 77% success rate. As for the future, we would like to make more of an impact with the growing population of individuals suffering mental health issues.

This article is an abstract from a conversation with the Executive Director Loren “Skip” Steffen.

To read more in our August Newsletter about your Mission and how you are helping to make a difference, click here.

Newsletter – August 2016