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Homeless Person

Shelter, Economic Assistance, Education, Voting, Antihomeless Legislation, Further Readings

An individual who lacks housing, including one whose primary residence during the night is a supervised public or private facility that provides temporary living accommodations; an individual who is a resident in transitional housing; or an individual who has as a primary residence a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings.

The number of homeless persons in the United States is estimated to be between 250,000 and three million. Unemployment, cutbacks in social service programs, a lack of affordable housing, and the deinstitutionalization of mentally ill patients are some of the circumstances that have led to people living in shelters or on the streets. There is no fair stereotype of homeless persons: they include the young and old, individuals and entire families, and all races and ethnicities. According to 2000 statistics published by the National Coalition for the Homeless in 2002, best estimates indicate that approximately 1 percent of the U.S. population (3.5 million persons) experience homelessness each year—more than one third of them children. The rights of these persons have become important societal and legal issues.

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