The week leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday is Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. The planned events want to draw attention to the problems of hunger and homelessness in America.

As expected, the statistics between homelessness and addiction are heartbreaking. According to the American Addiction Centers, accurate rates of the coexistence of homelessness and addiction can be difficult to determine. … Generally speaking, available statistics indicate that rates of addiction are higher in people who are homeless.

A bench is not a home.

The 2020 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR) reports that on a single night in 2020, 580,000 people experienced homelessness in the U.S.3  

According to the 2013 AHAR, 257,000 people who were homeless had a severe mental illness or a chronic substance abuse issue.2

The 2015 AHAR reports that more than half of adults living in permanent supportive housing (an intervention that provides affordable housing to chronically homeless people) had a mental health disorder or a co-occurring mental health and substance use disorder. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) points out that people who are homeless have a high risk of overdose from illicit substances. One study found that homeless people had a higher risk of opioid overdose, with an adjusted risk rate of 1.8% for homeless vs. 0.3% for low-income people who had housing.5 

Most research shows that around 1/3 of people who are homeless have problems with alcohol and/or drugs, and around 2/3 of these people have lifetime histories of drug or alcohol use disorders.6 

According to SAMHSA, 38% of homeless people abused alcohol while 26% abused other drugs.2 

A 2014 report from the United States Conference of Mayors indicates that substance abuse was one of the top three causes of homelessness in single people as well as families.2

Substance Abuse & Homelessness: Statistics & Rehab Treatment (

In addition, the disheartening breakdown of homelessness and substance abuse in women, youth, and the LGBTQ Community cries for our help.

 This holiday season, as you make up your grocery and gift shopping list, please share your good fortune with our brothers and sisters who suffer from mental illness and addiction and have no place to call home. There are many agencies you can Google to offer your support. I pray you will.

Then he turned to the host. “The next time you put on a dinner, don’t just invite your friends and family and rich neighbors, the kind of people who will return the favor. Invite some people who never get invited out, the misfits from the wrong side of the tracks. You’ll be—and experience—a blessing. They won’t be able to return the favor, but the favor will be returned—oh, how it will be returned! —at the resurrection of God’s people” (Luke 14: 12-14 MSG).