I base these classifications on numerous comment threads and private conversations.
The term “homeless” is difficult to discuss due to the disparate definitions and types of homeless people, and different causes for homelessness. To clarify – here are some more numbers by definition.
- Homeless – 1 – Someone down on their luck. This would include someone who is essentially capable of taking care of him or herself under normal circumstances but just needs temporary help to get back on his or her feet and get over a series of bad events or choices.
Essentially if a one time infusion of $3,000 would fix your housing problems forever then you are Homeless – 1.
- Homeless – 2 – The carefree wanderer – this is “train kid” itinerant wanderer who is homeless on purpose. Not necessarily traveling all the time but choosing to have no fixed address or responsibilities of his own free will
- Homeless – 3 – Someone incapable of taking care of him or herself due to mental or physical illness or disability or addiction.
Homeless groups 1 and 2 are fairly invisible – those are people who can generally access some kind of temporary shelter (family, friends, actual shelters for group 1, hostels w/ day laboring for group 2) fairly consistently.
Almost all discussions of homelessness are actually about group 3, but the numbers are for all 3 groups.