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Homelessness is a major problem in the United States On any given night up to 600000 men women and children go homeless in our country Dept of Health and Human Services 1 Poor people are frequently unable to pay for housing food childcare health care and education Difficult choices must be made when limited resources cover only some of these necessities Often it is housing which absorbs a high proportion of income that must be dropped With no where to go the homeless flock to shelters many of which filled over capacity on a nightly basis turn them down forcing even young children to sleep on the streets Of the 600000 homeless roughly 30 appear to be mentally ill Street lives 118 Of that 30 approximately 20-25 suffer from some form of severe and persistent mental illness However only 5 of the estimated 4 million people who have a serious mental illness are homeless at any given point in time National Coalition for the Homeless 1 If only 5 of seriously mentally ill people are homeless at any given time then why do 20-25 of homeless people suffer from mental illnesses According to the Federal Task Force on homelessness and Severe Mental Illness only 5-7 of homeless persons with mental illness need to be institutionalized These 5-7 are those who suffer from biological illnesses such as Schizophrenia and Bipolar disorder The remaining must then suffer from illnesses not brought on by the nature of their bodies but by the environment they live in When confronted with the question of where so many homeless mentally ill people come from homeless people say they think homelessness can drive you insane Street Lives 118 While recognizing that many mentally ill people do become homeless they stress the debilitating effects of their situations as a main cause of mental illness among them no matter how big you are how tough life on the streets is hard As one homeless
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