For many people, the image that comes to mind when they think of homelessness is the person sleeping on a bench or standing on the side of the road holding a cardboard sign. In reality, homelessness takes many forms and affects families and individuals from all walks of life who often go unnoticed by the community around them.

The reasons why families and individuals experience homelessness are as diverse as the people it touches. Job loss, mental illness, family breakup, eviction, a natural disaster, and the inability to afford housing due to expensive health care costs are just a few examples. Most of the time, people become homeless because of multiple, compounding issues like these.

What makes homelessness even more challenging is that people move in and out of homelessness on an ongoing basis, which means the number of people who are homeless is constantly changing.

The first and perhaps most important goal toward solving any problem effectively, especially one as complex as homelessness, is to develop shared understanding and clarity of the issue.