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Homelessness is a constant problem in modern America, as well as throughout the world. Food, shelter and clothing are basic needs, and many nonprofit organizations focus on providing these to homeless people, and on addressing the causes of homelessness and on ways to help the homeless people get the education, representation, employment, housing and healthcare that they need. Many people have skewed perceptions of the homeless (they think of them as lazy or drunk or addicted, or even just unemployed). The reality is that homelessness most often results from one piece of a tenuous puzzle failing to fit (i.e. illness makes a working mother miss work; she gets fired and can no longer pay the rent. Suddenly, she and her family are homeless).
Many homeless charities acknowledge preconditions that must be established to really help the homeless: they advocate an increase in affordable housing and greater scale in housing assistance programs (they advocate better healthcare for the poor and the homeless so that they can get and keep regular and gainful employment, and so that their children can attend school often enough to get benefit from education and break the poverty cycle). As a result, when you help a homeless charity, chances are that you are supporting a short-term and a long-term goal: to feed, clothe and shelter the homeless today, and to reduce homelessness in the future.