The concept of homelessness is difficult to define. The homeless are generally thought of as persons with no permanent residence and seek security, rest, and protection from the elements. "The General Accounting Office (GAO) report used as its definition those persons who lack resources and community ties necessary to provide for their own adequate shelter.- However, these people tend to live in places that aren't shelters: "In almost every major city, and in some small towns as well, men, women, and children are sleeping in public parks, bus and train stations, caves, rail yards, subways, alleyways, loading docks, and on rooftops and heating grates."" Daily contact with these homeless people raises troubling unanswerable questions about our moral obligations to strangers. Should we help them? Do they want us to help? It almost seems impossible unless you're willing to house them or find them work, and of course large numbers of these people have been characterized by the instability and inability to find regular work. There are also others who have enjoyed steady employment and a normal life until their jobs were rendered obsolete. So there are different types of homeless people, they are not all in that situation for the same reasons. "The HUD report (1984) cites personal deficits as the primary cause of homelessness and identifies three major types of homeless persons: (1) persons with chronic disabilities such as alcoholism, drug abuse and mental illness; (2) those with severe personal crises, including battered women and runaway youth; and (3) unemployed and welfare recipients."" Besides the few that are lucky enough to have a relative come to their rescue, these persons have to depend on the help of private and public agencies to get them a roof over their head and some food in their mouth.
In order to get the problem of homelessness corrected, government and public agencies can improve coordination with nonprofit organizations.